A season that has promised so much goes on the line tomorrow at ANZ Stadium when the Sharks play the Sea Eagles in a knockout semi-final clash.
The young Sharks enjoyed a dominant season, finishing seven-points clear as minor premiers, however a disappointing loss to the Eels has them under pressure to perform and to progress against a Manly side with their tails up following a week one finals win.
Last week the game started well for the Sharks, a Ryan King line-break resulting in a try for the Holden Cup’s leading pointscorer Kyle Flanagan.
From there the Eels responded, scoring two converted tries, but a long range effort from five eighth Luke Metcalf on the stroke of half time saw the Sharks take a narrow lead into the break.
Plauged by missed tackles and up against a determined Eels outfit the Sharks fell short in the second period, the Parramatta side claiming a 35-22 win to move through to the Grand Final qualifier.
Which is where the Sharks hope to be after facing the Sea Eagles, with the St George Illawarra Dragons awaiting the winner.
The Sharks are set to rush backrower Tony Matautia back into their starting side after he missed the Eels match, however off-setting that inclusion will be the unavailability of Briton Nikora who accepted a two-game suspension after being charged with a dangerous throw.
Nikora won't be available to return until the Grand Final should the Sharks win their way through over the next two weeks.
Ryan King shifts from the front row into Nikora’s spot, with Eddie Faalua going from the bench into the run-on team at prop.
Sharks coach John Morris will be hoping for a better defensive effort from his team, with 30 missed tackles in the second half cause for concern.
Morris will also be looking for strong performances from the likes of Billy Magoulias at lock and Jesse Ramien in the centres, two experienced Holden Cup campaigners and players capable of tipping the scales in the Sharks favour.
The Sharks v Manly match is scheduled for a 5.00pm kick-off at ANZ Stadium on Saturday. The Eels and Cowboys NRL semi final will follow.
The Sharks 20-player squad is listed below, with Morris to make a final decision on his 17-man team one hour prior to kick-off.
NYC Team List – Finals Week 2
Sharks v Sea Eagles
Saturday, September 16
Kick-off – 5.00pm
1 William KENNEDY
2 Sione KATOA
3 Isaac LUMELUME
4 Jesse RAMIEN
5 Josh TUILAGI
6 Luke METCALF
7 Kyle FLANAGAN
8 Eddie FAALUA
9 Blayke BRAILEY
10 Daniel VASQUEZ
11 Ryan KING
12 Tony Matautia
13 Billy MAGOULIAS ©
14 Joshua CARR
15 Zachary FAULKNER
16 James Roumanos
17 Teig WILTON
18 Clayton Uia
20 Johnathan Tufuga
23 Jack Williams