14 Rounds gone, the Sharks sit second on the NRL ladder having record 11 impressive wins – not least ten of those in succession through rounds 4 to 14 respectively.
Ready to head into the back-end of the campaign upon return from the Bye next weekend, we reflect on the side’s path thus far.
Rounds 1-4: Laying the foundations
Round 1 saw the Sharks travel to to North Queensland to take on the Premiers, and despite the side’s best efforts, the Cowboys proved too good in the season opener. Though well within reach, the Sharks couldn’t rope in the Cowboys who kicked ahead late to score the two points.
Returning to Southern Cross Group Stadium in Round 2, the Sharks came out with a point to prove against old rivals the Dragons. A dominant performance had the Sharks in good stead, and the side went on to round out an impressive 30-2 win in front of 17,946 Members and fans.
On the back of an impressive win over one old foe, the side would then travel to Brookvale in Round 3 to face another in the form of the Sea Eagles. Despite a wave of first half possession and position, the Sharks couldn’t capitalise against a gallant Manly outfit. Disappointed with their efforts, the side knuckled down and made a pact to turn things around the next week.
And that they did. In Round 4, the side geared up for an important Monday night clash with the Storm at Cronulla. The Storm crossed for early points, and with a 1-and-3 record within sight, the Sharks turned the tables to record a gutsy 14-6 victory, and took confidence into their next game against the Tigers.
Rounds 5-9: Combinations begin to gel
The Sharks had not played a competition game at Campbelltown in a decade, but the side looked right up for the Round 5 contest against the high-flying Tigers. A James Tedesco-inspired performance had the Tigers right in the contest until the final quarter, where the Sharks’ might had proved too much as the side ran out eventual 8-point victors.
Round 6 saw the side host the Gold Coast Titans on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the Shire. Kicking out to a 14-0 lead early, the Sharks would be made to work for the two points late on in the contest. The Sharks would go on to edge the Titans by 5 points, an acrobatic effort from Valentine Holmes the highlight of the afternoon.
Buoyed by three successive wins, the Sharks went out to make it four on the trot in their Round 7 match up with the Raiders in Canberra. Wary of a potent Raiders backline, the Sharks looked well and truly ready for the contest, and walked away from the Nation’s Capital with a big win.
The side paid their collective respects to the ANZAC spirit in Round 8 when hosting the Panthers. On an afternoon of commemoration, the side too had reason to celebrate at the end of the 80 minutes, edging the Penrith men 20 points to 18 in a thrilling affair.
Eight rounds gone, the Club would face its toughest test in the form of the travelling Broncos in Round 9. The Broncos themselves had been on a four-win run, but it would be the Sharks’ first-half blitz that paved the way for the eventual 2-point triumph. Five first half tries set the tone for the afternoon – but not a side to lay down in the face of adversity – the Broncos fought their way back to within reach of snatching a win.
After the win, members of the squad went off in to their respective representative camps, with all reporting back fit and ready for their duties ahead of the side’s clash with the Knights.
Rounds 10-14: Hard work pays off
The Sharks travelled up the M1 to take on Newcastle in Round 10, and returned home with a huge win in their back pockets. The 11 tries to nil rout equalled the Club’s record winning margin, and set the side on their way for another impressive performance the following week versus Manly.
Toppling the Sharks in Round 3, the Sea Eagles would venture to Southern Cross Group Stadium in Round 11 in what was the Club’s ‘Members Round’. In what was a tight, dour affair, the Sharks prevailed to make it a run of eight consecutive wins heading into the Bye weekend of Round 12.
Round 13 saw the side take to ANZ Stadium against a Bulldogs outfit intent on sending the Sharks home without the two points. A last-gasp try to Ricky Leutele handed James Maloney a chance to take the match from his boot – which he did, in memorable fashion.
Within arm’s reach of 10 successive wins, the Sharks were fronted by the Cowboys when the men from up North travelled to the Shire to face the then competition front runners. The Round 14 clash was one that lived up to all of the pre-match billing, as the Sharks ran out 3-point victors in front of a parochial home crowd.
The Sharks next return to action in Round 16 versus the Warriors, as the side looks to equal a long-standing Club record of 11 consecutive wins.