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Flegg preview: GF Qualifier - Sharks v Mounties

A place in the Jersey Flegg grand final is the prize when the Cronulla Sharks under-20s take on Mounties at Leichhardt Oval later today.

After finishing the regular season in second spot, the young Sharks hit a road bump in week one of the playoffs as they lost to the Penrith Panthers.

They responded emphatically last Sunday, defeating the Canterbury Bulldogs 30-10 in a sudden-death shootout to earn a preliminary final berth.

Cronulla coach Dave Howlett said his side is pumped for the occasion.

"We're really looking forward to it. I think the best four teams have made it through to this point, so it's an open competition from here," Howlett told

"The boys and I are up for the challenge."

While the week one setback stung the Sharks, Howlett insisted the players are buoyant following their resounding display against the Bulldogs.

"No one likes to lose. I most certainly didn't enjoy the result [in week one]. Effort wise, I didn't think we played too badly in that game," he said.

"We were definitely very sloppy with the ball and didn't deserve to win it. But playing last weekend, we were a lot better.

"The boys are in a good space at the moment heading into this weekend's game."

While only 70 minutes stands between the Sharks and the decider, their opponents are far from pushovers.

Mounties inflicted Cronulla's second loss of the year when they pulled away with a 26-16 triumph in round 15.

Howlett learned from that game and is now all too aware of Mounties' strengths.

"I took out of it that they're a very good team. They're strong from one through to 17," Howlett said.

"Their outside backs have a lot of power, their halves are smart and athletic and they're big and powerful through the middle too.

"We're in for a very, very big challenge this weekend."

Cronulla has plenty of talent across the park as well, mixing a potent backline with a formidable forward pack.

Centres Bronson Xerri and Jackson Ferris and fullback Luke Polselli – who have combined for 33 tries this season – loom as the strike weapons.

The pinpoint kicking of halfback Braydon Trindall will be vital, likewise the creativity of shrewd hooker Harry Smith.

Hulking prop Cruz Topai-Aveai is set to lead the way up front, while the nonstop work of back-rowers Teig Wilton, Josh Carr and James Roumanos could prove invaluable.

Although the Sharks possess a wealth of skill and attacking flair, Howlett's philosophy on winning is decidedly simple.

"The key to us playing well is making sure we respect the footy," he said.

"We have to focus on preparing ourselves as best we can for the game and then giving our best effort on Sunday."

The Cronulla line-up is unchanged from last weekend.

Jersey Flegg Grand Final qualifying final – Team List
Sharks v Mounties
Sunday, September 16
Leichhardt Oval
Kick off – 3.00pm

1 Luke Polselli
2 Chris Tupou
3 Jackson Ferris
4 Bronson Xerri
5 Isaac Lumelume
6 Jayden Millard
7 Braydon Trindall
8 Cruz Topai-Aveai
9 Harry Smith
10 Monty Raper
11 Teig Wilton (c)
12 Josh Carr
13 James Roumanos
14 Luke Jurd
15 Fine Kula
16 Blake Manowski
17 Tom Caughlan
18 Aperaamo Lualua
19 Kalani Pewhairangi-Charlie
20 Thomas Hazelton


Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.