Top two the main priority for Sharks
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan says the safety of a top-two finish outweighs the lure of sealing the club's first minor premiership in 17 seasons.
The Sharks travel to Melbourne next weekend to take on the Storm in a game that will decide who takes home the J.J. Giltinan Shield.
The Storm could have sealed the minor premiership on Friday night but were instead beaten by the Broncos, while Cronulla remained in the hunt for the trophy following a dominant 37-12 win over the Roosters 24 hours later.
While the Storm are guaranteed a top-two finish no matter the result next weekend, the caveat facing the Sharks is that they must win to ensure they earn a home semi-final in Week One of the playoffs.
"I haven't really thought about it too much," Flanagan said when asked about the minor premiership.
"We just needed to get back on track and win tonight. We need to still go down there and we might need a win to wrap up a home semi.
"We go into every game wanting to win and if there's a trophy on offer then we'll take it if we can get it. But it's not our main focus. Our main focus is to go down there and play well and get a win hopefully so our destiny is in our own hands of getting a home semi-final.
"I think it'd be massive [playing at home]. Obviously all our fans can just travel half-an-hour up the road. It is what it is, but the boys are of the understanding that we'll go up against a pretty good team down there in Melbourne next week."
Flanagan said his side faced a unique scenario with the result of next Saturday's match set to have bigger implications than most regular season clashes.
"It'll be a tricky situation for Melbourne as well as us. How we approach it, I'll have to think about it next week. It's going to be a bit of a tricky one going into a semi-final," he said.
"For both of us, there's a minor premiership up for grabs so that'll be the first point. And we've got to win to guarantee ourselves second place. But we don't get second place if we win; we get first place so it's a little bit different.
"I haven't had time to digest all the machinations of it. We'll sit back during the week and have a think about it."
Sharks skipper Paul Gallen – who played a starring role against the Roosters – said the enormity of next weekend's match hadn't hit him until he returned to the sheds following the 25-point win.
"I said in the interview after the game that I didn't care about the minor premiership," Gallen revealed.
"But as Flanno said, I quickly realised after I said it that if we go down there and don't win, we could possibly finish third. We're going down there to win. If the minor premiership comes with it then so be it."
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