For the last time in 2015, the Sharks will run out onto Remondis Stadium for a match that has a huge bearing on their place in the semi-final make up. Here are the match-ups that all eyes will be on come Sunday afternoon.
THE FULLBACKS | Michael Gordon v Brett Stewart
Michael ‘Flash’ Gordon will play his last game in Sharks colours at Remondis Stadium this Sunday, and will without doubt be hoping to finish his time in the Shire on a memorable note.
Club ‘Player of the Year’ in his previous two seasons at the Sharks, Gordon has again begun to find the form that saw him earn those accolades – and much to the benefit his side heading into the pointy end of the season.
From his 68 appearances in the black, white and blue to date, Gordon has scored 18 tries and kicked 156 goals. A true clubman, Flash has done his job time and time again since arriving at the Sharks in 2013.
While Gordon will move on at the end of the year, a man doing no such thing will be Manly’s Brett Stewart – with the ‘Snake’ having penned an extension on his contract last weekend.
Gordon and the Sharks must be on watch, with Stewart having crossed for 16 tries in 2015 (a Club best this year).
THE HALFBACKS | Jeff Robson v Daly Cherry-Evans
Former Sea Eagle Jeff Robson meets Manly’s $10M man this weekend and he like the rest of the Sharks squad will be hoping to short-change Dally Cherry-Evans returns come Sunday.
Robson and fellow halves partner Jack Bird have orchestrated Cronulla’s back-end of season form and will be looking to build upon that in the run in to the NRL’s finals series.
Robson is second only to Michael Ennis’ try assists in 2015 (with 9), while showing on countless occasions his reliability in defence.
Cherry-Evans meanwhile leads his side for try assists (20), 40/20s (3) and 1-on-1 tackles (77).
The Sharks must shut down DCE and his halves partner Kieran Foran’s time on the ball if they are hopeful of containing the Manly attack, and arguably the most potent backline in the NRL.
THE PROPS | Chris Heighington v Jake Trbojevic
In a contest matching experience and youth, Chris Heighington fronts Manly rookie Jake Trbojevic in a battle up front.
Heighington has starred in recent weeks in filling the vacant number ‘8’ jersey in Andrew Fifita’s absence, in not letting down Coach Shane Flanagan or his Cronulla teammates.
In last Saturday’s match against the Eels, the ‘Rhino’ had 16 carries for 166m, and made 19 tackles in what was a workman-like performance away.
Trbojevic and the fellow Manly big-boppers will be out to lessen the Cronulla run metres, but must aim up and not be dominated as they were at Brookvale last start against the Roosters.
Expect both men to be at the front of their team’s surge come Sunday afternoon.