Two teams on 18 competition points, two points behind the eighth-placed Titans and still with hope of making the upcoming Finals series, it’s now or never for both the Sharks and their opponents this week when they face off in the first-ever NRL game to be played in Rockhampton.
The Sharks may be the better placed than the Tigers when it comes to points differential, but anything short of a victory and that will count for little with only three rounds remaining in the 2021 season.
Acutely aware of the situation they find themselves in, five-eighth Connor Tracey was expecting a fired up Sharks team to put the disappointment of their narrow loss to the Knights, as well as the serious injury to Andrew Fifita behind them by turning in a strong performance in tomorrow's game.
"I think we'll get a big response," Tracey said. "We need to win all three to make the finals and I'm sure the boys will be up for it."
As for Matt Moylan, who is expected to make his return after battling a calf issue, the experienced playmaker realises the challenge the Tigers pose but is confident his team can get the required result.
"They're coming off the back of a couple of good wins and we're going to have to try to halt their momentum," Moylan said.
"I think the boys made a good step forward with the way they attacked the game last weekend, the result didn't go our way, but we can take a few positives out of it. If we can back that performance up and hone in a few more of our skill components, I think we can get the job done."
As for the venue for tomorrow's game, Browne Park in Rockhampton, Tracey for one was ready to embrace the experience of playing at a ground set to host it's first NRL fixture.
"I always love playing at the regional grounds and getting the different fans in. They're always nice and loud, it should be an awesome crowd, somewhere new and I'm looking forward to it," Tracey added.
In the head to head statistics, the Tigers have won 18 of the 32 games played between the two clubs, with the Sharks successful in 13 and one match drawn.
The Sharks have won eight of the past 11 meetings, the Tigers ending a six-match losing streak against Cronulla with a 28-16 win in round three last year.
In relation to matches played in Queensland since 2019, the honours have been somewhat shared evenly, with both recording seven wins, the Sharks from 14 matches, the Tigers from 12.
The Wests Tigers come into the game on the back of a 24-16 win over North Queensland, the victory just the second time this season where they have won consecutive matches.
As for the Sharks, they suffered a third straight loss last week in losing 16-14 to Newcastle and since Round 15 only have wins over the Warriors and Bulldogs to show for their efforts.
In their past two matches the Sharks have been beaten by just two points, with six of their games this season decided by two points or less.
In team news, Moylan is tipped to return to the Sharks side but is likely to start the match from the interchange bench, with youngster Luke Metcalf added to the run-on side.
Tracey reverts to the centres with Mawene Hiroti coming out as he continues his recovery from a broken hand, while Will Chambers has also been omitted from the originally-named 21-man squad.
In another boost to the Sharks, Teig Wilton returns after being sidelined with a hamstring injury.
The Sharks and Tigers match gets underway at 3pm on Saturday, with the two 19-man squads listed below.
Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Moses MbyeFullback for Sharks is number 1 William Kennedy
Winger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David NofoalumaWinger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
Centre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Tommy TalauCentre for Sharks is number 4 Jesse Ramien
Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Michael Chee KamCentre for Sharks is number 6 Connor Tracey
Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Ken MaumaloWinger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Adam DoueihiFive-Eighth for Sharks is number 14 Luke Metcalf
Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke BrooksHalfback for Sharks is number 7 Braydon Trindall
Prop for Wests Tigers is number 8 Stefano UtoikamanuProp for Sharks is number 8 Toby Rudolf
Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Jake SimpkinHooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
Prop for Wests Tigers is number 14 Joe OfahengaueProp for Sharks is number 10 Aaron Woods
2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Shawn Blore2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Luciano Leilua2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Siosifa Talakai
Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Alex TwalLock for Sharks is number 13 Jack Williams
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Kelma TuilagiInterchange for Sharks is number 15 Braden Hamlin-Uele
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Tukimihia SimpkinsInterchange for Sharks is number 16 Teig Wilton
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 18 Billy WaltersInterchange for Sharks is number 17 Billy Magoulias
Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 19 Tom AmoneInterchange for Sharks is number 18 Matt Moylan
Reserve for Wests Tigers is number 21 Zac CiniReserve for Sharks is number 20 Kai O'Donnell
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Touch Judge: Dave Munro
- Touch Judge: Belinda Sharpe
- Senior Review Official: Grant Atkins