Sharks grateful for early-season Sea Eagles loss
In his career Chad Townsend has never beaten the Sea Eagles. Neither have three of his teammates named to face Manly on Saturday night.
A couple of their Sharks teammates have managed just the lone win while others have only beaten them while at other clubs in years past.
In fact the Sharks haven't beaten their upcoming opponents since 2012 – their lone win in the past 14 games against the Sea Eagles.
However if you ask around, the Sharks are pretty happy with the Sea Eagles.
Not because they like losing. Rather they're pretty thankful for the wake-up call they received back in Round 3 when Cronulla's trip to Brookvale Oval ended in a 10-point defeat.
The Sharks haven't been beaten since, and for Townsend the loss was a "blessing in disguise" as it allowed both he and halves partner James Maloney as well as hooker Michael Ennis to pick apart the side's game-plan.
"Being dusted by the Sea Eagles earlier in the year was honestly a massive turning point in our year. Our combination was still building, obviously it was early in the season, and after that game we sat down as a spine," Townsend explains.
"Michael, Jimmy, myself and the coaching staff – we all had a really good look at the tape and tweaked our game-plan a little bit. From then on, everyone has clicked into gear and haven't missed a beat.
"That was the game I think we needed and it was the one which changed us. They're always such a tough team though. You can never write them off, no matter the form they're in."
Maloney echoed Townsend's sentiment when quizzed on the Sharks' last loss two months ago and added the team's spine were trying to do too much too early in their time together.
"We went back to the drawing board and simplified a lot of what we did. That game probably highlighted a few things we needed to do," Maloney said.
"Whether it's a season-turner or anything like that, you have to remember we were trying to get our combinations together and we were probably a bit frantic about it. We were trying to put too many plays on.
"So we needed to simplify things as our combinations developed. We have done that now so the next stage is for us to step up and have a look at different variations on what we're doing because there's no doubt sides will start to work out what we're doing."
With their place in the top four consolidated for now, Townsend said the Sharks realise last week's 62-0 win over the Knights was necessary if they are to continue being viewed as a force in the NRL Telstra Premiership.
"The Sharks in previous years have dropped off in games [against less experienced teams like Newcastle] which we spoke about. Also to have that zero on the scoreboard at the end of the game was definitely the most pleasing thing," Townsend said.
"We knew [the Knights] would come out pretty fast and with a bit of emotion but we kicked into gear and stuck to our process and our structure. We put some plays on and put some points on the board."