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Line in the sand for Sharks

A fortnight ago the Southland Sharks players were left embarrassed and deflated - they had just been beaten by 111-93 by the Wellington Saints.

For most who follow the league, the result probably didn't prompt too much of a surprise, given the quality the Saints possess in their roster.

But for the Sharks players, they were stunned by what they felt was an unusual lacklustre effort.

What followed was an honest assessment as to where they were at and it involved the whole group.

There were some stern words and captain Duane Bailey admitted he delivered a fair few of them.

It is that honesty session which they hope is the tonic to kick-start their run towards the playoff.

Since then they have beaten Hawke's Bay and Nelson, and now eye Taranaki on Friday night who toppled the Sharks earlier in the season.

"We had some good conversations," Bailey said about the post-Wellington chat.

"It was led by everyone. I know I had a say, I was in there and was grumpy, disappointed, and embarrassed. It was horrible, it was the worst feeling ever."

"We said we can't rely on Judd [Flavell, coach] all the time, we've got to all be accountable. I think there is more accountability there now."

"I was saying to the boys, 'we go so hard at training against each other and then we come out and play against the Wellington boys and play like we are pussys'."

"We got smacked by Wellington and it was a good wake-up call for us. They are a good team loaded with talent, but I feel like they are not going to get better and we are."

Bailey is in his third season with the Sharks.

He was part of the 2015 title-winning team and last year was in the Sharks team which was knocked out in the semifinals.

Bailey said he would love nothing more to win another title with Southland.

"Every year you want to notch up a title, but it is always good to get it down here because we are appreciated more I feel.

"We have a lot of fans backing us and a lot of loyal sponsors."

Southland currently sits second in the competition standings with five wins and three losses.

But the second half of the round-robin season looms as a tougher assignment for the Sharks.

"We've got a big second half of the season where we've got the likes of the Canterburys, the Rangers. I think we'll be sweet.

"Every game is important, we need to win as many games as we can so we can retain that second spot. We want to stay as high as we can."

In Southland's last out against Taranaki they posted just 61 points in the 64-61 loss in New Plymouth but Bailey was confident the offence would be much better come Friday night in Invercargill.

Despite the victory in the last meeting between the two teams Taranaki have lost their last four games, the Sharks have won eight of the last 10 games between the two teams and Taranaki haven't won in Invercargill since 2012.

Taranaki have sorely missed their second import, Daniel Gomis, who has been out for their last three games.

Friday night's game will tip-off at 7pm.

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