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Crunch time has come early for the Sharks.

After copping a 38-10 thrashing from the Knights last week, they need to show they are a worthy top eight side with a strong Sunday night performance against the over-achieving Warriors.

Cronulla will be without key players and coach John Morris has his work cut out getting everybody on the same page for a must-win game.

The Warriors have exceeded almost everyone's expectations in the face of adversity, but they know they can pretty much forget about the finals if they don't knock off the Sharks.

The rundown

Team news

Sharks: Cronulla will start 1-17 after Braydon Trindall and Mawene Hiroti were the last two players cut from the squad. Shaun Johnson (groin/hamstring) will return and play halfback in place of the suspended Chad Townsend. Johnson will be partnered in the halves by Connor Tracey.

Siosifa Talakai has moved into the starting side to replace Wade Graham (suspended) while Toby Rudolf has been named to start at lock for Scott Sorensen.

Sorensen and Bill Magoulias were cut from the reserves on Saturday.

Sione Katoa will return from a chest injury on the wing and Andrew Fifita is on the bench. The Sharks have won six of their past seven games against the Warriors.

Warriors: The team will start 1-17, but Tohu Harris is now listed at prop and Isaiah Papali'i in the back row Josh Curran and Paul Turner were the last two players to be omitted.

Eels loan pair George Jennings and Daniel Alvaro both return. Lachlan Burr revered to the interchange after starting last week, while Tom Ale and Beale were trimmed from the reserves on Saturday.

The Warriors have lost nine from 10 against top-eight opposition in 2020.

Key match-up

Aaron Woods v Jamayne Taunoa-Brown. With so many key players missing, Woods' leadership might be the most important asset for the Sharks on Sunday. The former NSW Origin prop has to lead by his actions and words and make sure some of his younger teammates keep their mind on the job. JTB is rated by many as a future star and the 23-year-old rookie will be keen to give Woods all he can handle.

Stat attack

The Sharks and Warriors split their two meetings last year. The Warriors prevailed 19-18 on home soil in round 18 after Blake Green kicked a late field goal. It was a different story when they locked horns in round 23 at Cronulla, as the Sharks romped to a 42-16 victory after leading 24-10 at half-time. Goal-kicker Shaun Johnson was a perfect 7/7 on conversions.