Sharks seek to avoid second NRL fade-out - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sharks seek to avoid second NRL fade-out

By Todd Balym and David Beniuk 11/07/2008 06:15:20 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla are using the pain of consecutive NRL season fade-outs as inspiration for Saturday night's top-of-the-table clash with Manly at Toyota Stadium.

The Sharks have folded at the business end of the season for the past four years, in fact, but are adamant they won't let it happen in 2008.

Cronulla share the competition lead with Manly and the Sydney Roosters with nine rounds to go and injured star Greg Bird insists the Shire boys have spoken about their history of capitulating.

But Bird believes the Sharks have developed the mental strength to push their more-fancied rivals to the finish line this time around.

"We've been in positions where we could have taken a really good spot into the semi-finals and we've thrown it away," said Bird.

"But our players have addressed that and (coach) Ricky's (Stuart) addressed that and we're playing a lot different football than we were playing in those stages last year and the year before that."

Both the Sharks and Sea Eagles are on five-game winning streaks heading into their grudge match and, although they've developed an eight-point gap over ninth place, Cronulla are refusing to even consider the prospect of playing finals football.

"We got five (wins in a row) and that's put us in good stead now leading into the semi-finals but, if we lose every game from here on in, all the good hard work's been wasted really," said Bird.

"We've been looking at just week in week out and looking at the next game we've got."

Cronulla jumped the underdone Sea Eagles 16-10 in round one at Brookvale Oval this year but the Sharks are expecting a vastly more fine-tuned effort from Manly on Saturday.

The Sea Eagles boast the best attack and defence in the NRL and proved their strike power with four tries in the final 17 minutes last week in their 34-14 win over the Titans.

The Sharks know they can't afford to give the Eagles any sort of lead as the `Silvertails' have the discipline to withstand plenty of pressure.

"It's hard to give them a start the way Matty Orford and Brett Stewart are playing," said Bird.

"If you give them too much space, they're going to be scoring tries all over you and making you look quite silly.

"I'm sure that Ricky will have the boys pumped up and make sure we get out there and it's going to be won and lost in the forwards ... and I'm sure that our boys will be turning up in the middle and giving it to them."

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