The Tigers moved up to fourth on the ladder after their seventh successive win, a 39-10 dismantling of Gold Coast on Monday, and St George Illawarra’s defeat of the Warriors on Sunday.
The 2005 premiers will almost certainly secure a home final with victory over Cronulla at Toyota Stadium on Saturday. But defeat could potentially send them sliding to seventh spot and Sheens said his players were fully aware of the importance of controlling their own destiny.
Sheens’ side finished third last year, but lost their first game of the finals to Sydney Roosters in an epic clash at the Sydney Football Stadium, only to bounce back and beat Canberra before losing to St George Illawarra in the preliminary final.
“Cronulla is a game we can’t afford to slip up on and count it already as a win,” Sheens said. "Although we have won our last few games, we have been up and down and need to be a lot stronger this week.
“It is not so much the home game, it is the option of a second chance. I’ve reminded everyone about the Roosters game last season … it is very important to get that second opportunity as we did last year at Canberra and found ourselves in a grand final qualifier.”
The Tigers have been the form team for the past two months, seeing off the Dragons and Manly in a blistering run, and the four-time premiership-winning coach insists they must maintain their ruthless streak.
“A month ago, we were tipped not to win any games and we did. Now we are tipped to win and everyone is waiting for us to slip up,” he said. “Wests Tigers sides of old have slipped up. We haven’t so far, so this game becomes crucial now.” He said the prospect of a top-four finish “increases the pressure against what will be a near full-strength Cronulla side”.
Sheens said he was concerned about his side’s relatively easy run to the finals, in which they beat Penrith, Parramatta and the Titans in the past three weeks.
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