Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs: Lineups, preview, and prediction

Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sunday 20th May, 4:10PM (AEST).

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Overview

After a slow and sluggish start to the season, Shane Flanagan and his Cronulla Sharks have slowly started to turn their fortunes around, sitting in 8th position with 6 wins from 10 games at the point of writing. New recruit Matt Moylan has slowly settled in at his new club and continue to strengthen his playing relationship with Chad Townsend. Cronulla to have been left devastated by injuries, especially in their forward pack. The return of Paul Gallen this week from injury will be a welcome one for the Cronulla Sharks, as his hard work in the middle helps lay the platform for Cronulla’s most talented players, Matt Moylan and Valentine Holmes.

As expected by most, the Bulldogs have struggled this year, but perhaps not as bad as most would’ve assumed. They have only won 3 games of their 10 so far this season, which is very poor, and their season may be close to already over. But the 2018 season for the Bulldogs really is one in rebuilding, creating partnerships, and sorting out the unbelievable mess that is the clubs salary cap. Big name new recruits Kieran Foran and Aaron Woods have been quiet and taken time to settle into the club, not delivering performances many Bulldogs fans would’ve hoped for so far this season. Moses Mbye has been arguably one of the best for the Bulldogs this season, and his shift to fullback has been successful. For the Bulldogs to do well and try to save their season, their spine needs to turn it on.

Recent meetings

2017 – Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 9 vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 8 at Southern Cross Stadium.

2017 – Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 28 vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 4 at Eden Park.

2016 – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 18 vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 20 at ANZ Stadium.

2015 – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 16 vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 18 at Belmore Sports Ground.

2014 – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 42 vs Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 4 at ANZ Stadium.

Selected teams

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
1 Valentine Holmes Moses Mbye
2 Sosaia Feki Brett Morris
3 Jesse Ramien Josh Morris
4 Ricky Leutele Will Hopoate
5 Edrick Lee Marcelo Montoya
6 Matt Moylan Matt Frawley
7 Chad Townsend Kieran Foran
8 Andrew Fifita Aaron Woods
9 Jayden Brailey Jeremy Marshall-King
10 Matt Prior David Klemmer
11 Kurt Capewell Josh Jackson
12/21 Jayson Bukuya Asipeli Fine
13 Paul Gallen Rhyse Martin
Interchange
14 Joseph Paulo Adam Elliott
15 James Segeyaro Clay Priest
16 Ava Seumanufagai Renouf Toomaga
17 Jack Williams Kerrod Holland
Reserves
19 Braden Uele Greg Eastwood
21/20 Josh Dugan John Olive

The facts that matter

The return of Paul Gallen for the Cronulla Sharks is a massive boost for the home team against the Bulldogs on Sunday. I believe this game will largely be decided by which pair control and dominate the middle of the field, either Andrew Fifita and Paul Gallen, or Aaron Woods and David Klemmer. 

Cronulla has won 4 games in a row and have the opportunity to slide into 5th spot on the ladder from 8th if they win this contest against the Bulldogs. The motivation for the Bulldogs should be to simply, try to salvage their season and find a way to try to make something of their 2018 season. The Bulldogs are certainly not incapable of scoring points; the issue is defending them and their try line.

Prediction

I think this will turn out to be an exciting and possibly brutal contest between the two packs, and I think the Bulldogs may have a survivalist mindset, but I believe with Cronulla’s rising form and rhythm, they may just be too much for the struggling Bulldogs. Cronulla by 12.

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