Whoever wins the battle up front could go a long way to determining the outcome of Sunday afternoon's Group 3 rugby league top-of-the-table clash between Wauchope and Port Macquarie.
The Blues and Sharks shared the points in a 28-all thriller in round two and another close contest looms at Lank Bain Sporting Complex.
Sharks front-rower Matt Jones is hopeful he won't have to repeat his 80-minute heroics during last Saturday's 12-10 local derby win over Port City.
"I don't want to do it again, it was torture," he told the Port News.
"There were a couple of injuries on the bench and a couple of times I put my hand up to come off, but the coach said to stay out there so I had to make do."
Jones has been arguably the Sharks best player in the opening seven rounds of the competition. He toils, carts the ball forward all day and is in career-best form.
"It's been one of my best years for footy so far, but everyone seems to be going well in the team," he said.
"There's a bit more room for improvement for myself and for everyone, but this week is the benchmark."
The front-rower said they expected a similar style of game to the previous clash.
"There's a bit more room for improvement for myself and for everyone, but this week is the benchmark."Matt Jones
"The last game we played them was easily the hardest game we've played so far, so we'll be expecting that again," he said.
Blues interchange forward Kahlan Duncan missed the fixture earlier in the season due to a finger injury, but since his return he has been strong off the bench for the ladder-leaders.
Having to have a cool head has been the main change to his style from previous years.
"Being one of the older blokes now I've got to keep my calm a bit more, lead by my actions and mentor some of these young blokes," he said.
"Some of the kids coming through are unreal and they are still teaching me a few things."
The Blues forward said their start to the season had come as a little bit of a surprise.
"It's a whole new team to what it has been the last two years so a good mixture of youth and a few of us old boys have gelled really well which is pleasing," he said.
"It's a good start to the season, but there's still a long way to go."Kahlan Duncan
"It's a good start to the season, but there's still a long way to go."
Duncan and the Blues respect what the Sharks have achieved so far this season. It will be their biggest challenge of 2021.
"They're sitting pretty, playing pretty well and in a lot of ways we're similar sort of teams so it will be a good test to gauge where we are at the halfway point of the season."
A win for the Blues will see them extend their lead to four points on top of the ladder as well as open up a seven-point gap on third-placed Old Bar if the Pirates were beaten by Port City.
The Sharks could move five points clear of Old Bar if results fell their way.
Kick-off is 3pm.
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