The Warriors put a dent in the Sharks push to make the NRL playoffs with an 18-16 win in Brisbane on Saturday afternoon.
The New Zealand team broke a seven-match losing streak last weekend with an 18-16 victory over the Wests Tigers and in Saturday's game were looking to win back-to-back games for just the first time this season.
Warriors coach Nathan Brown speaking to media after the Tigers game was clear that the Warriors are not there simply to make up the numbers, even though they are effectively out of the running for this season's finals.
"We certainly haven't put the cue in the rack with the words to say we don't want to win."
By the same token, Brown said the club does want to give their younger players a taste of NRL football in what remains of their season, "We've also got the future of the club to look at too."
"Obviously, we did want to get some of our younger players some more experience so they get to build into the preseason, understand what first grade is about. But we also wanted to win some games."
"I'd love the boys to have a crack. That's all everyone wants, even the fans back home" - Jazz Tevaga. Source / Vodafone Warriors
The Sharks, who are eighth and come into Saturday's game off the back of Monday's 22-40 loss to the Manly Sea Eagles, are in a must-win situation with only five games left in the regular season.
"We’re in a dog fight for the top eight, with five or six teams. It’s a good position for rugby league fans and for the NRL as well,” Sharks front-rower Aiden Tolman told the Cronulla media team.
“We play a couple of teams around the same points as us, if we win all our games we’ll be in it. That’s our goal, starting with the Warriors this week."
The stats favour the Sharks, with Cronulla having beaten the Warriors eight times out of the last nine games. The teams last met in round 17, with the Sharks defeating the Warriors 20-12. The Sharks arguably have a favourable draw running into the finals.
"Some draws look easier on paper than others but the reality is that the Warriors are going to be desperate tomorrow," Sharks coach Josh Hannay told media Friday.
"So while they might not sit as high on the ladder as other teams, sometimes a desperate football side is the most dangerous football side. I don't really buy into this favourable draw scenario. I think every team on their run home is going to have to get their game right."
Kick-off at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane is at 5.00pm (NZ time).