The Sharks’ victory over the Warriors was worth the same amount of competition points as their other five victories, but make no mistake, the against-the-odds triumph was a lot more valuable than the standard ‘W’.
When premiership winner and 225-game veteran Dale Finucane says he can’t think of too many wins he’d put above it in terms of character and commitment, you know it was something special.
As they look to ride the momentum of the gutsy victory into their Magic Round clash with Canberra, the Sharks skipper says the 29-10 win with 12 men is one they can use as motivation throughout a long season.
“That culture of having each other’s backs is something Craig [Fitzgibbon] has brought into the team,” Finucane said.
“I think it will be good to look back on in that win in terms of communication and things we had to do better because we were a man down.
Sharks v Raiders: Round 10
“The scramble in defence, especially when there was 11 men [for 10 minutes], and guys playing out of position.
“Craig has been a defensive coach for the past 10 years so it’s expected that’s the sort of mentality he would have. We just want to work on improving our defence every week.”
The Sharks currently boast the fourth best defensive record in the NRL but one team who did manage to expose a weakness was the Raiders, who snatched a last-gasp victory in the opening round through a Hudson Young try.
That culture of having each other’s backs is something Craig has brought into the teamDale Finucane
That 24-19 loss was quickly left behind as the Sharks won their next four on the trot while Canberra have tasted victory just twice more since that night at GIO Stadium, but Finucane won’t be taking the Green Machine lightly.
“We probably had a really good start and middle to the opening eight or nine rounds but we lapsed a little bit against Melbourne,” he said.
“It was a really competitive game but they did end up putting 34 points on us and the following week [against Manly] we leaked over 20 points as well so we just want to get as consistent as we can with our defence.
“I wouldn’t say we want revenge [against Canberra], we just want to find consistency in our team, and we’ll be looking to rectify that loss this week.”
With Will Kennedy out injured and Jesse Ramien suspended a backline reshuffle has seen in-form No.7 NIcho Hynes move to fullback, meaning Matt Moylan will be handed more responsibility in the halves.
The 30-year-old is enjoying a stellar season at five-eighth, turning back the clock with his speed and footwork to earn rave reviews from fans and team-mates.
A bit of Matt Moylan magic
“It was a bit of an unknown when I came to the club how quickly the spine would gel, adding Nicho to that mix, but the cohesion between that group has been really good for us,” Finucane said.
“Something popped up on social media the other week about Matty’s try assists and line break assists, and there was a period of time for consecutive years at Panthers where he was No.1 in the league in those categories.
“Obviously he’s had some injuries for the last couple of years and wasn’t able to do that but It was really big for him to get through the pre-season unscathed and I certainly think he’s getting back to that sort of form and really delivering for us as a team.”
The players set to light up Magic Round: Nicho Hynes