Sharks upbeat after Storm loss
Despite letting the minor premiership slip and possibly facing the Raiders in Canberra in week one of the finals, the Sharks are not disheartened after Saturday night's game against Melbourne.
The 26-6 loss sees Cronulla currently occupy second spot on the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder, although a win to Canberra on Sunday against the Wests Tigers would see the Sharks drop down to third.
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan says the result could have been different had his side taken more care of the ball, although he isn’t too worried about the outcome of the game nor the injuries to Joseph Paulo (knee) or Chris Heighington (concussion) given the Sharks' top four finish.
"I wasn’t real fussed about the injuries, wasn’t real fussed about the loss either. It was tough with Paulo and Heighington and we played with 15 for a while, but in the end the Storm did what they do best, we weren’t at our best and they deserved their win," Flanagan said.
"I thought we created some opportunities in the first half, I think even still in the second half the linebreaks were still 5-3 to us, so we broke their line a couple of times but ball didn’t go to hand.
"Jimmy Maloney was away and threw it to [Marika] Koroibete, so we had our opportunities and if we had of taken them in the first half it could have been a different story but typical Storm, they held in there.
"It was probably a soft try the first one after half time and it put it to bed, but I thought we created opportunities and we couldn’t finish them, it wasn’t our day today."
As the Sharks now wait for Sunday's result at Leichhardt Oval, Flanagan's side aren't fussed whether or not they need to travel in the first week, and both the coach and captain Paul Gallen said their side must now think about their own game and how they'll be better next week.
"We play Canberra so we just move on, we play a semi-final next week no matter where it is we've just got to play similar to tonight," Flanagan said.
"We've had a really enjoyable year, won a lot of games and now finish in the top four and that was our plan, so now we need to lick our wounds from tonight, get back on the horse tomorrow and get ready for the semi-final."
Paul Gallen added: "It's about Cronulla, they were better than us tonight, definitely, but as Flanno (Shane Flanagan) said we've just got to worry about next week and worry about ourselves."
While Heighington should recover in time for next week's qualifying final, Paulo will likely miss at least the next week of football with an MCL injury.