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Stuart cuts Sharks back down to size

By Todd Balym 23/09/2008 07:49:14 PM Comments (0)

It took just five minutes for Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart to cut his Sharks down to size and deflate the first and only onset of any ego at the club.

The underrated Sharks briefly got swept away with themselves when they secured a straight passage into this Friday's NRL preliminary final with a 36-10 win over Canberra two weeks ago.

Cronulla were gifted a week off by Melbourne's shock loss to the Warriors in the qualifying finals and now face title favourites the Storm at the Sydney Football Stadium for a place in the decider.

But almost as soon as the Sharks started thinking how good it was to be within 80 minutes of a grand final appearance, Stuart brought out the video of the Raiders win and put his men back in their place.

"(Stuart) knew last week he had to settle us down and put us in our place. We had a video session and it wasn't all positive," said skipper Paul Gallen.

"He cut us down to size a bit to keep us grounded.

"The way we started that game (against Canberra) was pretty terrible. The first five sets we might have dropped the ball four times.

"I was involved in two of them. He wasn't happy.

"What he said was right, if we do that against Melbourne and drop the ball in their 20m zone they're more than likely to score.

"A couple of tries (Canberra) scored were a bit soft too and he was into blokes about that.

"I think it all just cut us down to size and made us realise we're not going as good as we think we were probably going and we still have a lot of improvement."

Halfback Brett Kimmorley, one of just two Sharks players with premiership experience, agreed Cronulla were not at their best in the seven try rout over the Raiders and had to get back to basics to defeat the Storm this week.

"I thought we were a bit erratic," said Kimmorley.

"We rushed and tried to make the game something that it wasn't. We were trying to score off tackle one off the kick off.

"We spoke about just playing our game and getting set up and going through the motions and getting the first five or six sets out and settle into a rhythm.

"We have a good bunch of blokes who are pretty tight as a club. We don't rely on one superstar winning us the game or one superstar standing out at training.

"We will relax. No one gives us a hope, which is cool. (Melbourne) have obviously got a fair bit of pressure on them, with all the superstars and everyone is expecting them to bounce over us and jump into the grand final."

Kimmorley denied the Storm were struggling despite the close loss to the Warriors and last-gasp win over Brisbane.

He was part of the 1999 Melbourne premiership team that overcame a week one finals loss to lift the trophy so he knows the Storm are capable of replicating that path in 2008.

"That year was a massive shock for us," Kimmorley said.

"We were flying and had the semi and got beaten. It was a wake up call and then we went three in a row to win the grand final.

"Everyone has come through different paths to win it.

"No one has ever won it from eighth but the Warriors are a chance.

"I think we've got a bit of momentum, we had a good week off.

"We're following Melbourne's path from last year so let's hope that works and what worked in 1999 doesn't work."

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