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Junior Reps Preview: Finals Week One

After a week off, the NSWRL Junior Representative finals are set to get underway with two Sharks teams hunting for the ultimate prize.

Both the under-17 Harold Matthews boys and under-19 Tarsha Gale girls play at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, facing the Roosters and Indigenous Academy in respective elimination matches. Win and they'll be through to grand final qualifiers.

Read on for a preview of each game.

Harold Matthews Cup

Coached by Brad Kelly, the Harold Matthews Sharks finished the regular season in fourth position after racking up six wins in eight games (plus a bye).

They will enter Sunday's do-or-die clash brimming with confidence after beating the Tricolours under two weeks ago in Round 9 to jump them on the ladder.

In that game at PointsBet Stadium, the Roosters skipped away to an 18-0 lead after just 13 minutes with classy halfback Lachlan Metcalfe pulling the strings, but Cronulla rallied impressively and completed a thrilling 26-22 victory.

Fullback Oliver Lester, a prolific try-scorer, looms as an integral attacking weapon for the Sharks, with the likes of captain and lock Tom Dellow, centre Elijah Cooper and playmaker Jack Schumacher also among the key players.

The experienced Kelly is sure to have his troops primed for the playoffs, having guided the Harold Matts to the grand final only two seasons ago.

Tarsha Gale Cup

A break between games may have been just what the Sharks women needed to regroup and recharge after ending a strong regular season with back-to-back losses.

Cronulla's most recent outing was a 38-4 defeat to the unbeaten Steelers, but they've been terrific on the whole in recording four wins and a draw.

Back-rower Manilita Takapautolo, a member of the 2024 NRLW squad, has been a dominant force for the Sharks with the ability to sniff out a try.

She will be crucial in Cronulla's bid to topple the Roosters-affiliated Indigenous Academy alongside fullback Tia-Jordyn Vasilovski and winger Arianna Ruwoldt.

Sharks coach Isaac Michael has made no secret that his team needs to improve on their second-half starts. They can't afford to be tardy against the Indigenous Academy, who lost just one game en route to finishing third.

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.

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