Sharks try to get their groove back - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sharks try to get their groove back

By Peter Williams 04/08/2006 03:53:52 PM Comments (0)

The Cronulla Sharks' training session in Auckland may have been fog bound, but coach Stuart Raper insists the team hasn't lost its way to the NRL finals.

The eighth-placed Sharks play the Warriors on Saturday in New Zealand for the first time in three years with five straight losses behind them and their season on the line.

Another defeat would have Cronulla out of the top eight and reaching for the calculator as the playoffs loom.

"We don't want to put ourselves in a position where we have to look at mathematics to try to get ourselves in the eight," Raper said.

"We can control our own destiny at the moment by winning games.

"Every game is important and it starts tomorrow night."

He blamed injuries, bad luck, and a few bad games for the losing streak but believes things aren't as bad as they look for the Sharks.

"Our form, although I don't think it's dipped dramatically, there's a small dip," Raper said.

"The last two weeks I've been pretty happy with our performance, albeit not getting the result."

After an early trip across the Tasman, the team had a bonding session on Thursday at a thermal resort outside Auckland in what Raper called a mini-camp away from Toyota Park.

He doesn't think the Warriors being out of finals contention will make them any less committed to defending their turf at Mt Smart Stadium.

"It probably makes it a bit more difficult. They've got nothing to lose now, they'll go out and go for broke."

For the Warriors' part, coach Ivan Cleary said his side has pride at stake after an uncharacteristically big loss last week to Penrith last week.

"We'll certainly be preparing to play a side that's going to play well and play with a lot of emotion and desperation," Cleary said.

"I'd like to think that as much passion as they're going to show, we can match it."

At least one of the Warriors thinks the team, placed 14th on 16 points, still has a sniff at qualifying.

"Who knows, if we win the next five you never know what could happen," hooker Nathan Fien said.

"We've seen sides before get in on 26 points."

But Fien believes regardless of the finals, the Warriors won't be offering the Sharks an easy path back to winners circle.

"We're professionals, we've got pride in our performance - we sort of embarrassed ourselves last week so we're looking to bounce back."

Both teams have key players missing - back rower Greg Bird has joined David Simmons and Phil Bailey on the Sharks' injury list, while Warriors utility Sione Faumuina is out for the season and NRL hard man Ruben Wiki serves a one-match suspension.

"We're probably a bit lucky that Ruben mightn't be playing," Cronulla five-eighth Adam Dykes said.

"Definitely, one win is all it takes to get the confidence back and it will ease a bit of pressure and help us to play good again."

Sharks hooker Kevin Kingston comes back from suspension and Brent Webb returns from injury at fullback for the Warriors in what will be a testimonial match for veteran teammate Awen Guttenbeil.

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