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Sharks battling to keep finals hopes alive

Cronulla face a crucial fortnight without halfback Chad Townsend as their race to claim a top-eight spot looks likely to go down to the wire.

The Sharks are hopeful they’ll have Townsend back from a calf injury for round 16 against North Queensland, but they have two big matches before then.

Now placed eighth after Sunday’s 14-12 loss to Parramatta and with Manly just one win behind, the Sharks must take full advantage of next week’s clash with Gold Coast.

A date with the top-of-the-table Penrith awaits the week after without Townsend, before they face three top-eight rivals in their final four rounds.

“It is (a big few weeks). Everyone is playing each other and that will sort itself out,” Morris said.

“We have been happy with the past two months to put ourselves in this position.

“But we know now we have already slid down the ladder two spots this weekend.

“We have the Titans this week and we have to get back on the horse pretty quickly otherwise you can slide out pretty quick.”

While Moylan did his job in the halves next to Shaun Johnson in Sunday’s 14-12 loss, there is no questioning Cronulla are a better team with him at fullback and Townsend No.7.

Regardless, Sunday’s loss to Parramatta was arguably the biggest proof yet that Cronulla can match it with the best.

While they largely beat teams from the bottom of the ladder in their recent streak of six wins in seven games, they took it to the Eels until the siren on Sunday.

They were arguably the better team, and again only lost after scoring more tries than their opponents – just as they did five times last year.

“We’re really confident to where we are as a club,” Morris said.

“We have really been building with our performances. To really push a genuine top-four team all the way.

“But we’re not happy with that. We’re not happy just pushing teams all the way, we want to start beating them.

“We’d done enough to win the game, scoring more tries than them. We’ve just got to be better taking the opportunities.”

NRL’S RACE FOR THE EIGHT

5. Canberra 16pts (+27)

6. Newcastle: 15pts (+71)

7. South Sydney: 14pts (+52)

8. Cronulla: 14pts (+44)

9. Manly: 12pts (-48)

10. Wests Tigers: 10pts (+12)

11. Warriors:10pts (-131)

Source:: SportsNews

    

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