Sharks flog Raiders for sixth win in a row
Cronulla claimed their sixth NRL victory in a row with a 44-22 thumping of a hapless Canberra on Sunday to match their best winning streak since 2002.
But coach Shane Flanagan insists the Sharks won't get ahead of themselves, rating Melbourne and Brisbane still leagues ahead of the rest of the competition.
The Sharks moved to outright third on the ladder with Sunday's victory at Canberra Stadium, where they put the Raiders to the sword with an impressive kicking game.
Todd Carney was at his damaging best, orchestrating a handful of tries and notching 12 points off his boot to give NSW Origin selectors something to smile about.
It was an impressively comprehensive performance by the Sharks, who had not won by more than 12 points in any of their previous five victories.
The 44-22 scoreline also matched their highest ever total against Canberra, secured in 1982.
But asked if the performance had moved Cronulla into the same grade as pace-setters, the Storm and the Broncos, Flanagan was adamant.
"No, I don't think so," he told reporters.
"We're doing a real good job at the moment but the testing times are ahead, when blokes like Gal (Paul Gallen) and Todd (Carney) are in Origin, to get results (then) as well."
Gallen struggled to sum up what had changed at the club since last year but said the squad would be making the most of their record run.
"It's been 10 years since we've won six in a row," he said.
"Far out, I don't feel that old.
"But we've got to make the most of it - I said to Shane that we've got to drum into the young blokes that opportunities like this don't come around all the time."
The Sharks host South Sydney on Monday week while things don't get any easier for the struggling Raiders, who face defending champions Manly at Brookvale Oval a day earlier.
Raiders coach David Furner has so far overseen a win/loss ratio of 3-5, but said his men had their chances against the Sharks, who adapted better on the day.
"If you are starting to defend well at the start of the game, teams are going to go to the air and we just didn't handle that," Furner said.
"Their kicking game was spot on and at 28 points there in the first half, it's hard to get a roll on then and possession in the end was too much for us."
The Raiders had a lot to prove in their first match without Terry Campese, ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, but the last-minute injection of Josh Dugan at fullback and the new halves combination of Josh McCrone and Sam Williams failed to spark the home side.
Skipper David Shillington insists Canberra can turn their season around.
"Defensively today we probably didn't have the best attitude, but there was plenty of great attacking sets," he said.
"If we were more consistent, I think that's an attitude thing we can turn around in a week."
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