Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has sent a stark warning to his side about keeping their heads out of the clouds, reminding them the club’s NRL trophy cabinet is still bare.
The Sharks erased any doubts about their premiership credentials with a rousing 13-10 win over premiers North Queensland at Shark Park on Monday night.
As well as being unbeaten at home this year (at 7-0), the Shire boys are now just won victory short of the club’s all-time winning streak of 11, set in 2002.
In a fire and brimstone match that was played at finals intensity, the Sharks pack bullied the Cowboys’ big men and kept playmakers Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan largely in check.
Going into round 14, the Cowboys averaged more metres than any opposition side, however, the Sharks won the yardage game 1561m to 1083m, according to Fox Sports Stats.
The Cowboys have been a well-drilled unit all year, but they were forced into errors, completing 22 of 33 sets – compared with the Sharks’ 30 of 35.
And while the long-suffering Sharks faithful are beginning to believe their premiership breakthrough is on the horizon, Flanagan warned about losing focus for fear of their season falling to pieces.
“I’m under no illusions. I’m really strict on it and I know what works and I know what we have to do during the week,” Flanagan said. “There won’t be blokes cutting corners or think they’ve achieved anything.
“We could get to the semi-finals and go bang-bang-out. I’m going to ensure we’re in good shape come semi finals.
“We’ve got the bye and then the Warriors and we won’t be take the foot off the pedal. We’ve been working all year, we don’t get these chances too often so we’ll be knuckling down, trust me.”
The Sharks sit in second, equal with Melbourne on 24 points but behind on for-and-against, and have the bye next weekend.