By Big League, NRL.com
They are one win from equalling the club record of 11 consecutive victories and Sharks hooker Michael Ennis says that the suburban ground which they call home will play a crucial role in their push for a minor premiership.
With the two points for the bye all but banked Cronulla could find themselves alone on top of the Telstra Premiership through 15 rounds if their neighbours to the north St George Illawarra can knock off the Melbourne Storm on Saturday night.
Since April 2015 the Sharks have won 13 of their 16 games played at Southern Cross Group Stadium including the last seven on the trot and hooker Michael Ennis credits the atmosphere created by the raucous Sharks fans for their current winning run.
"When we turned up here [on Monday] and came around the main street and saw all the cars parked on the side of the road, I thought to myself 'This is going to be massive' – and it was," Ennis told Big League's Ben Lonergan this week following their 13-10 win over the Cowboys on Monday.
"I love the suburban ground. I love turning up here and playing, the support we get is unbelievable.
"You only have to listen to the noise in the second half when [James] Maloney kicked that goal to go to 10-8 – they just got us home after that.
"The energy on the field lifts because of the noise.
"People will argue that the corporates are important – and they are; they bring so much money into the game and they deserve to be looked after. The better facilities at the big grounds, I get all that, but as a player the atmosphere at the suburban grounds is just really nice to play in front of."
Ennis told Big League that the energy created at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Monday night was as intense as any he has played in front of during his 14-year career and extended his praise of suburban grounds to his former home of Belmore where the Bulldogs will play two games this season.
"I think we played in front of 15,000 or so against the Bulldogs [at ANZ Stadium], but you could have tossed a coin and heard it," said Ennis.
"It's dull, but playing here it's a different story and that's why I think there's still room for the suburban grounds.
"If we played at Belmore last week and you put 15,000 in there it would have been unreal. You lose that atmosphere at the big grounds."
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