In playing one of the competition heavyweights in the Raiders and with Coates Hire confirmed as their new back of jersey sponsor for the 2015 and 2016 season, the NYC Sharks have a perfect chance to climb back into finals contention with a win in Canberra on Saturday.
A glaring refereeing error didn’t help, with photos and video later showing Dragons winger Tom Carr clearly in touch when awarded his team’s first half try, however it was a disappointing loss by the Sharks last Sunday against a St George-Illawarra side running at the bottom of the NYC competition ladder.
The final margin was eight points, the Dragons last converted try coming in the 80th minute following a Sharks mistake, but the closeness of the contest would have come as little consolation to a Cronulla team on the edge of the top eight and needing a win.
As a result of the last start loss this weekend’s match-up at GIO Stadium in Canberra becomes crucial for the Sharks, who despite sitting in 13th place are just three points adrift of the top eight and close enough if good enough with still eight games of the 2015 season remaining.
Their opponents the Raiders on the other hand are comfortably positioned for a run at the top four after 18 rounds of the competition, currently sitting in fourth place with 22 points.
In the Sharks favour this weekend is the fact that the talented Tevita Pangai Junior is missing from the line-up, the back-rower a clear leader of the off-load statistic in the NYC this year, with the second phase play he creates hard to handle for opposition defences.
Pangai’s is listed to play for NSW Cup team Mounties this weekend.
The other Raider danger-man, highly rated outside back Brenko Lee has however been named in the NYC squad and will need to be controlled if the Sharks hope to enjoy any success on Saturday.
For the Sharks prop Harrison Muller returns after a week out due to suffering a head knock against Manly, while coach James Shepherd will need to trim a seven-man bench back to the regulation four prior to kick-off this weekend.
The Sharks v Raiders NYC match is set down for the early kick-off time of 10.40am as the first of three games at GIO Stadium on Saturday.
The NYC is followed by a Jets v Mounties NSW Cup clash at 12.40pm, before the NRL game at 3.00pm.
NOTE: Coates Hire, one the Sharks major commercial partners, have agreed to increase their involvement in the club by taking up the back of jersey sponsorship of the Sharks NYC side.
Coates Hire, who are already the Sharks NRL back of jersey sponsor, have also committed to the NYC team in an arrangement mirroring the NRL sponsorship which takes in the remainder of 2015 as well as the 2016 and 2017 seasons.