Cronulla playmaker Shaun Johnson says his team's defensive starch will need to match their attacking prowess if they're to challenge the big guns in the NRL.
Kiwis international Johnson has been the focal point in a Sharks team whose points-for is ranked second in the competition at the midway point, yet they find themselves outside the top eight.
Hooker Blayke Brailey revealed the Sharks were still to hit a target they set in the pre-season - to tally fewer than 22 tackles in every game.
Even in last week's 46-10 drubbing of the Warriors, they missed 26, leaving Johnson to call for a lift across the board in Saturday's derby against St George Illawarra as they try to shed their label as an attack-heavy side.
"There's a few areas in our game that we haven't hit the mark on, that's just one of them," Johnson said.
"The teams up the top of the table are probably hitting the mark on those key stats than the teams down the lower end.
"Collectively, we're not happy sitting outside the eight. It is disappointing that we're there but there's lots of positives in our game that we can build on and if we can get a few of those areas right, we'll certainly start climbing."
Johnson's 15 try assists is four more than the league's next-best set-up man, Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary.
The mercurial former Warrior bridled at suggestions he had found form, saying his play had been relatively level throughout 2020 but had been over-scrutinised in the media.
"I don't know if it's a return to form. That's probably what the critics and the media are going to paint it as," he said.
"I've been chipping away at my game all year and I've had the same mindset right throughout."
He said he was heading in the right direction. "I'm not satisfied one bit with how I'm going but (there are) certainly some positives with my game."