Sharks eyeing top-four finish
The door is once again ajar for the Sharks to earn themselves a top four berth after Melbourne's upset loss to the Knights on Monday and South Sydney heavily impacted by the injury of captain Greg Inglis.
While the Broncos, Roosters and Cowboys are locked in for the top spots, the Sharks are currently tied with the fourth-placed Rabbitohs on 30 competition points as the Storm and Bulldogs continue their chase just one win further back.
Cronulla's chance to finish within the top quarter of the competition looked lost when they were defeated by Melbourne just nine days ago, but as back-rower Wade Graham puts it: "a week is so long in rugby league".
"You hear everyone say it and it's so clichéd, but it's just the truth because you never know what this competition is going to toss up. Every team is a good, you have to be up every week to win games, so for us now it's about getting a result," Graham said.
"Obviously we know we have been in both positions, when we lost to Melbourne – and we thought we were out of [the running for the top four] – then all of a sudden there's an opportunity there.
"It's up for us to learn from the past and to really try to take the opportunity and to be up for Parramatta. You see what they did to Manly [last Sunday]. They're a good team when they play well so the rewards are there for us if we can aim up."
There is no question that the top four spot carries a lot of history with it.
"You get two bites of the cherry and you only have to win one game and you're in a grand final qualifier so there are definite rewards to be up there. That's the goal, it would be ideal but we know we have to focus on beating Parra which is no easy task," Graham said.
"We can only focus on us and focus on winning games and whatever happens, happens from there. It'd be nice to be up there though."
Fellow Sharks back-rower Luke Lewis added he hopes other teams don't fear Cronulla.
Whether it's because he wants to lull his opposition into a false sense of security or he doesn't care what others think, Lewis wouldn't want to be running around for any other team when the Telstra Premiership finals series rolls around in a fortnight.
"I don't want anyone to fear us because for me I want us to worry about us. I know what our 17 players can do and for me that's the most important part," Lewis said.
"I love playing with this side. We've had 25 players this year who have played first grade and it's the 25 who – if we were lucky enough to make the grand final – it's not just about the team who wins it that night it's the squad who have helped all the way through the season.
"I just love the boys and camaraderie we have got. I know everyone's going to turn up and rip in for each other and if something goes wrong then we're going to be here for one another.
"That's what we have built our season around and it's what has gotten us to where we are at the moment."