The NYC Sharks will be looking to rebound from a disappointing loss in week one of the finals when they travel to Canberra to take on the Roosters on Saturday.
The young Sharks were well beaten on the scoreboard last week, the minor premiers the Panthers inflicting a 28-6 loss on John Morris’s side, however the final score line didn’t tell the full story of what was a committed Cronulla effort.
After the Sharks had stunned the high-flying Panthers with their resilience in the first 40 minutes, the teams going to half time locked at 6-points all, the start of the second period eventually proved to be their undoing.
A Penrith try from a Sharks error just two minutes into the half gifted their opponents the lead, then another soon after had Cronulla 10 points down and despite their best efforts it was a bridge too far as the Panthers progressed and the Sharks were left to ponder a sudden-death clash this Saturday.
While Morris’s task this week would have been to keep his troops heads up and confident, his NYC squad need only to look back three weeks, to the last time they took on the Roosters, for some positive affirmation.
In an exciting free-flowing affair the Sharks managed a 34-28 victory over the Roosters in their round 25 match, in a game which helped catapult the Sharks into the top four on the back of a four-game winning streak.
The only other time the two teams met back in round 19 it was again high scoring, the Roosters coming out on top on that occasion by 38-28.
In the Sharks favour for this weekend’s match, Morris has been able to name an unchanged line-up, one boasting a combination of exciting youngsters and experienced Holden Cup campaigners.
In centre Isaac Lumelume and interchange hooker Blayke Brailey, the Sharks have two talented graduates from the 2016 SG Ball team named in the 17-man squad, partnering with the likes of skipper Jayden Brailey, backrowers Ash Nisbet and Jayden Walker, as well as centre Lachlan Stein, players in their third seasons in the NYC.
In the Panthers match last week Jayden Brailey made 56 tackles and scored his teams’ only try in a tireless 80-minute effort, while brother Blayke added energy and enthusiasm when injected into the contest during the second half.
As for their opponents, three players in centre Joseph Manu, hooker Grant Garvey and lock Nat Butcher tasted NRL action with the Roosters this year, with all three needing to be controlled should the Sharks hope to be successful on Saturday.
The Roosters come into the game in good form following a 48-0 victory over the Raiders in week one of the finals.
The Sharks v Roosters match is scheduled to be played as the curtain-raiser to the Raiders v Panthers NRL Semi-Final at GIO Stadium in Canberra.
Kick-off to the NYC match is at 5.00pm, with the game to be televised live on Fox Sports.