Sharks struggle for focus as finals loom
After letting a comfortable lead slip before being forced to come from behind late in the piece against Parramatta, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan says his side has been guilty of looking too far ahead towards the finals rather than the games directly in front of them.
Taking things 'one game at a time' is one of the most-used clichés in rugby league but that's exactly what the Sharks failed to do on Saturday afternoon, according to their coach.
Flanagan said it was his experienced troops of Paul Gallen, Michael Ennis and Luke Lewis who were guilty of just wanting the finals to start already.
"Whilst they're focused on week-to-week they know the bigger games are ahead and they can't wait for that so with that in mind sometimes you lose a little bit of focus," Flanagan said.
"They're doing their best to focus on week to week but there are bigger games ahead and they probably lose a little bit of focus."
Flanagan did pay credit to a spirited Eels outfit that took plenty of the chances they were presented with, especially in the middle part of the game after slipping behind 12-0.
"They just had too much field position and too much ball in that second half and to their credit they came up with some points," he said.
"I thought we played well in the first half, probably could have scored a couple of other tries. They scored two tries off kicks but we hung in there and they've got that belief that team at the moment. They're tricky games but they made me sweat it out in the box there.
"I thought it was a really good game to be honest, I thought we played really well in the first half, they played really well in the second half for 30 minutes of it and we were good enough and held our composure to get over the top of them in the last 10."
The win really was vital as it moved Cronulla into the top four for the first time this year and if they stay there they would get the all-important second chance in the finals. A win from a top four-finish would earn them an all-important week off.
Gallen praised the way his side hung in after things started to turn against them.
"We started pretty well, could have had three tries, [but that] didn't happen – we had that try [to Sosaia Feki] disallowed so it could quite easily have been 20 or 24 to nil but to their credit they came back into it," the skipper said.
"We hung in there really well and got the win at the end which is the most important thing. We could have done it a bit easier for the coach but we got the two points."