Half-time spray has Sharks primed
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan is generally pretty good at keeping his emotions in check but even he couldn't hide his frustration after his side were swept aside by the resurgent Raiders 30-12 on home soil last week.
The defending premiers conceded 12 penalties and completed just 76 per cent of their sets en route to their sixth loss at home this year; a startling fall from grace given they lost just once at Southern Cross Group Stadium in 2016 – ironically against Canberra.
Sensing his troops were off after Canberra raced in two tries in the final six minutes of the first half, Flanagan launched a spirited half-time spray that was conveniently caught on camera but proved ineffective as the Raiders skipped away to claim a crucial 18-point win.
Sharks skipper Paul Gallen said the impassioned speech was warranted and revealed the players had met on Monday for an honesty session to discuss how they could get their season back on track.
"We were bad on the weekend. We were terrible, there's no doubt about it," Gallen said ahead of his 300th NRL match.
"Everything he (Flanagan) said to us was true because we didn't play well at all. Canberra played well – I've got to give them some credit – but it was probably one our worst performances in the past couple of years.
"Flanno let a lot of us know what he thought, which was fair enough. That's his job and it's up to us as a playing group to respond to that. We had a good meeting yesterday internally and we spoke about where we think we're at and fingers crossed we can get out there on Friday night and show our resolve and show that we are a tough side."
The Sharks have no excuses when they face the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night with the defending premiers a chance to move up to second spot on the ladder should they win and the Roosters fall to the Storm.
You can expect the players to lift a gear in Gallen's milestone game, but that's not the only thing in their favour ahead of Friday's match.
The Sharks are yet to lose back-to-back games this season, they've only lost once away from home in 2017 and they are set to welcome back five-eighth James Maloney from a hand injury.
With the finals set to kick-off next month, workhorse front-rower Matt Prior said Friday's clash was the perfect opportunity for the Sharks to make a statement against a side that's coming off a comprehensive 54-0 win over the Titans.
"We haven't been that great this year. We've been pretty inconsistent – hot and cold – and the first half against the Raiders on the weekend was pretty poor so we're looking at turning that around this weekend," Prior said.
"I think this is the time we really need to knuckle down and start putting some back-to-back performances in because we've been a bit inconsistent.
"If we think that the way we're playing is going to win those tough games in the finals, I think we'd be kidding ourselves so we definitely need to lift those performances if we want to be any chance come semi-final time.
"I think coming off our loss and them coming off such a big win is definitely going to be a good test for us."