Rockingham Sharks Coach Darren Shaw has challenged his side to jump out of the blocks early when they take on the winless Willagee Bears in Round 10 of the WA Smarter Than Smoking Premiership on Saturday.
The Sharks produced a strong second-half fightback against the Joondalup Giants last weekend, scoring the last 38 points in a 42-22 win.
With the result, last year’s Minor Premiers snapped a two-game losing streak.
“I think that’s the third time it’s happened to us this year – we’ve been able to redeem ourselves in the second half and get the points back,” Shaw said.
“We’ve had some real issues with our starts this year.
“We’re just allowing teams to get in front then we decide, hey we’re in a game here and we need to play.”
Shaw knows his side need to address this issue against a Willagee side desperate for their first win of the season.
“We need to be on our game because those guys (Willagee) are putting some pressure on teams at the minute,” he said.
“Especially playing at their place, on the back of a big result against them last week, they’re going to come out with a point to prove.”
The Bears sit bottom of the ladder with a 0-9 record and are coming off a 78-0 loss at the hands of the South Perth Lions in Round Nine.
Coach Nelson Davis is adamant his side will put in a better showing this time around.
“We will be making amends from last week,” he said.
The sides last met in Round Five, with the Sharks running out 58-16 winners.
“Sharks are always a strong side, they’re strong right along the park,” Davis said.
“They’ve got some big strong centres, some fast wingers and also some pretty good workhorses in the middle. Knowing they’re coming off a big win, their confidence will be up.”
In team news, the Sharks will be without utility Will Smith who is away on international duty with South Africa, while leading try scorer Tevita Pomale is unavailable for selection.
The Bears, on the other hand, welcome back a host of senior players, with captain Luke Pollock returning to the fold alongside Robbie Smith, John Prior and Ricky Kathro.
“John is one of the best defensive centres I’ve seen and coached. He’s got all the attack in the world, but his commitment in defence is sensational,” Davis said.
“Being at home and on the live stream, all the boys like hearing their names on TV. We’re a proud club and we just need to keep fighting – it’s a long season.”
In other games around the grounds, the two form teams of the competition go head to head as the ladder-leading North Beach Sea Eagles host South Perth, while Joondalup and the Fremantle Roosters will both be keen to return to the winner’s circle when they do battle at Admiral Park.
All of the games kick off at 3.30pm on Saturday.