Cronulla coach John Morris wants to believe his side have finally turned a corner in defence, knowing any more blowouts could kill off their NRL finals charge.
Friday night's clash with Newcastle looms as the most important game of the Sharks' season, sitting two wins clear of the Warriors with four games to play.
But they enter well aware of their terrible top-eight record, yet to beat a finals-bound side this season.
Making matters worse, they have conceded a concerning 142 points in those five games against the competition's best sides alone.
The Sharks are also conceding more than 22 points a game this year, a record no team has reached the finals with since Canberra in 2012.
But Morris said his side of youngsters were now starting to learn the consistency required at NRL level, having kept North Queensland to 12 last week.
"This is the youngest Sharks side we have ran out for years," Morris said.
"You have to acknowledge that, it takes them a while to learn to play consistently at this level and defend the way they want to defend.
"That's the next part of our game. We really want to tighten up defensively.
"From now, you can't afford to have any blowouts. You just need to tighten it up defensively.
"And if you can have that mindset we can go a long way to filling that potential."
Morris hasn't been afraid to make tough calls to turn the Sharks around.
Marquee man Matt Moylan remains out of the team, initially dropped and now sidelined indefinitely with his ongoing hamstring issues.
Former Kangaroos wrecking ball Andrew Fifita is back fit from a finger injury, but has been listed outside of the 17 and struggling to make his way back in.
Morris confirmed on Thursday that decision was on form alone.
"It's just the best 17 for the game," Morris said.
"No-one could argue the form of Siosifa Talakai and Toby Rudolph.
"With Royce Hunt and Braden Hamlin-Uele we are overstocked in middles, which is a good thing.
"Aaron Woods is doing a good job, Scott Sorenson did a good job last week. So it's just trying to get them all in."
Meanwhile Chad Townsend is certain to return in the halves from a calf injury, while centres Jesse Ramien and Josh Dugan will both play after eye and toe issues.
Shaun Johnson is also expected to return next week against the Warriors, after picking up a hamstring injury while recovering from a groin complaint.