Sharks face daunting first final game in Canberra

Gavin Cooper

The Cowboys played all their stars, but with an inconsistent Sharks side, it was the visitors who came out on top – with the Sharks now set to play against Canberra in the nation’s capital, but coach Shane Flanagan says that his side is not phased by the burden of playing in Canberra.

With the Sharks to face a red-hot Raiders side, Flanagan knows that in order for his side to win, they have to perform better than they in their loss to the Cowboys.

“Our performance today wasn’t anywhere near where it should be,” Flanagan said.

“I have a sneaky suspicion they were looking ahead to next week a bit too much.

“It’s hard for some of them to get it out of their heads. I’m making no excuses for it and hopefully it is a blessing in disguise.”

Despite the Raiders game finishing earlier, there was no talk of it among the Sharks players during their game – they simply lacked the firepower in the second half to challenge the Cowboys.

“None of the players knew the score, we didn’t really talk about it,” he said.

“We would have liked to have played at home, but it is not to be.

“It holds no fears, but in saying that, we haven’t played a semi-final down there.

“It’s a new competition next week and that is how we’re treating it.”

The Sharks concerns may grow deeper, however, with Todd Carney injuring his ankle, an injury that Flanagan says is not serious – and centre Ben Pomeroy placed on report for a shoulder charge to the head.

That means that Pomeroy will see his charge referred straight to the judiciary, a change that has Flanagan somewhat angered.

“It’s going to be interesting. It was shoulder on shoulder for me. I will have a look at it before I go off about it,” Flanagan said.

“It’s round 26 and the rules changed. I knew they were going to get someone, I was just hoping it wasn’t me.”

With the ARLC wanting to crack down on head injuries, Sharks captain Paul Gallen says that he thinks the charge will mean that Pomeroy is the first player banned under the new system.

“Changing the rules a week out from the semis you’d think the first person is going to be made an example of,” he said.

“But it’s a bit harsh going into the semis.”

Despite a late try to Andrew Fifita in the 71st minute, Gallen was displeased with the way his side approached the last 10 minutes, particularly when the chance was there to win the game.

“I thought our attitude in the last 10 minutes wasn’t that good,” Gallen said.

“We would have liked to go down there to Canberra on a roll but it’s not hard to turn around, we know what it is. We just have to run around and tackle a bit harder.”

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