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Wests Tigers Head Coach Ivan Cleary gives his final thoughts ahead of Sunday’s clash against the Cronulla Sharks at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
After a 16-14 defeat last week to the Sydney Roosters saw the side drop out of the eight for the first time this season, Cleary said Sunday’s game presented a tough but achievable challenge for the side.
“It’s always a big challenge going down there to Shark Park,” Cleary said.
"There’s usually a big wind blowing and you have to battle the elements a bit as well but it’s a good challenge. That’s what we’ve been facing all season and that’s what we’re facing tomorrow.
"I thought the big takeaway for us was that we didn’t help ourselves last week.
"I’m proud of the way which our boys fight each week and the way in which we came back last week to potentially snatch the game, even though we didn’t get it done in the clutch moment.
“Our ball control wasn’t good enough, especially in those key moments, so if we can tidy up there we’ll definitely give ourselves a chance to win this weekend. We’re scrapping well and finishing strongly which is a good sign, but so many of these NRL games are close and we really need to tighten up in that regard.”
Cronulla too coming off a surprising last start defeat to the Origin-depleted Rabbitohs, Cleary said he was expecting a vastly improved performance from the hosts that could lead to a highly-entertaining affair.
“I expect every team to come out firing, and that’s how we prepare for every game,” he said.
"It’s certainly a challenge down there at Shark Park and it’s something we’re looking forward to.
“I think we’ve shown this year that we’re at least competitive every week and that’s what we plan to do tomorrow as well, but we need to tighten up those execution areas to give ourselves a chance.”
In particular, Cleary pointed to the return of Josh Reynolds over the past fortnight as a huge boost for his side, and one that will only improve his side more as the 29-year-old continues to find his feet in the team.
“Benji and Luke have been in the halves all year and have a good combination going, and Josh really added something to us last week,” Cleary said. "It’s not really a long-term plan; Josh is still managing his way through some injuries and hasn’t played a lot of football for a long time, and he’s still finding his feet.
“The more game time he gets the better he’ll get. I think he’s just happy playing and happy to play his role for the team — whatever we need at the time — and he did that last week.”."