THE Cronulla Sharks women's water polo team play Adelaide Jets today and on Friday, take on the Brisbane Barracudas — their conquerors last year — in the opening two matches of this week's National Water Polo League finals.
The Sharks are trying to make it back-to-back gold medal playoffs, after ending the regular season with three consecutive victories over cross-town rivals Sydney University Lions, UNSW Killer Whales and Drummoyne Devils.
The Sharks, who boast three London Olympic hopefuls in Nicola Zagame, Holly Lincoln-Smith and Beijing olympian Alicia McCormack, go into the finals with a very young side after finishing fourth.
"We don't have real high expectations for the girls as we believe their fourth place finish was a great effort, but it is the finals and anything can happen," Sharks president John Zagame said.
"If they were to improve upon that fourth place ranking that would be great. "[After last year] we brought in a lot of young players, so this year's aim was to build some consistency, and to their credit they have shown great signs of development and slowly but surely our plans are coming together.
"We're also overwhelmed by our three girls in the Aussie Stingers' London Olympic squad, so if we can improve their chances of selection by playing well that would be amazing."
The Sharks open their finals account at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre against the sixth ranked Adelaide Jets at 10.30am today, with their gold medal replay against minor premier Brisbane at 12.30pm on Friday.
The women's gold medal will be decided at 1.30pm on Sunday.