Newcastle Knights vs Cronulla Sharks: Lineups, preview and prediction
McDonald Jones Stadium, Sunday 27th May, 2:00pm AEST
Two sides on total opposite form lines clash on a Sunday afternoon in what is sure to be a tough game of football.
After a promising start to 2018, the Knights have found themselves in somewhat of a hole in recent and come into this one on the back of 3 consecutive defeats that have them sitting outside the top 8. Poor discipline and defense have been the main problems throughout the losing streak and is an area they will need to address before the match against a resilient Sharks side.
The Sharks are the form team in the competition and riding a high of momentum with a five-game winning streak seeing the boys from the shire climb up into fifth place on the ladder and with a host of players back from injury are looking to continue this run.
Despite their winning streak the Sharks have been winning ugly and have not been convincing in putting the game to sleep but winning ugly and getting into arm wrestles is what the Sharks are known for and won’t concern them too much.
2017 – Cronulla Sharks 26 def Newcastle Knights 18 at McDonald Jones Stadium
2017 – Cronulla Sharks 19 def Newcastle Knights 18 Southern Cross Group Stadium
2016 – Cronulla Sharks 36 def Newcastle Knights 4 Southern Cross Group Stadium
2016 – Cronulla Sharks 62 def Newcastle Knights 0 McDonald Jones Stadium
2015 – Cronulla Sharks 30 def Newcastle Knights 28 McDonald Jones Stadium
The Sharks have dominated this fixture in recent years having won the last six encounters between the two sides, with three wins coming at this weekends venue including a massive 62-0 blowout on a Sunday afternoon in the Hunter.
If the Knights are to win this one they will need to break both the Sharks winning streak of them and also the five-game winning streak they are on in 2018 which will be no easy feat.
|Newcastle Knights||Cronulla Sharks|
|1||Kalyn Ponga||Josh Dugan|
|2||Ken Sio||Edrick Lee|
|3||Sione Mata’utia||Jesse Ramien|
|4||Nathan Ross||Ricky Leutele|
|5||Shaun Kenny-Dowall||Valentine Holmes|
|6||Connor Watson||Matt Moylan|
|7||Jack Cogger||Chad Townsend|
|8||Herman Ese’ese||Andrew Fifita|
|9||Slade Griffin||Jayden Brailey|
|10||Daniel Saifiti||Matt Prior|
|11||Lachlan Fitzgibbon||Luke Lewis|
|12||Mitchell Barnett||Wade Graham|
|13||Aiden Guerra||Paul Gallen|
|14||Danny Levi||Joseph Paulo|
|15||Chris Heighington||James Segeyaro|
|16||Jamie Buhrer||Ava Seumanufagai|
|17||Josh King||Jayson Bukuya|
|18||Jacob Lillyman||Kurt Capewell|
|19||Luke Yates||Jack Williams|
|20||Cory Denniss||Sosaia Feki|
|21||Brent Naden||Braden Uele|
The facts of the matter
The Knights slumped to a third consecutive loss at the hands of the Titans. Costly errors where the story of the game for the Knights giving up two tries on the back of handling errors in their own half.
Despite it being in a losing effort Kalyn Ponga scored yet another breath-taking solo try, when he raced the length of the field on a kick return beating several defenders to prove just why he is the man everyone is raving about in 2018.
Matching the Sharks up front will be a key for the Knights and their young pack will be up against the experience of the Sharks forwards so they will need to muscle up and send a message to the old heads early in the contest.
Its all hands on deck for the Sharks with several star players making returns from the injury list meaning they can have a full strength side on the park for the first time in months. Paul Gallen and Josh Dugan both made successful returns to actions last week and will be joined by Luke Lewis and Wade Graham in a huge boost for the visiting side.
Winning tough and gritty is what the Sharks have thrived on in recent seasons and while they are coming away with the 2 points it’s not enough to be a threat to the real heavyweights of the competition and this match shapes as a chance to make a statement to the competition.
Andrew Fifita has been the form prop of the competition in recent weeks racking up big stats each round and proving a handful for the defence each time he runs the ball with his offloads proving crucial for the Sharks go forward. Matt Moylan and Chad Townsend have been able to get more involved in matches on the back of these big performances for Fifita so having the big man firing is important for the Sharks chances in this one.
It’s hard to see match going anyway than a Sharks victory, with all their stars back and raring to go they will have too much firepower for the injury struck Knight’s side who will put up a fight but struggle to match it with the Sharks for the full 80 minutes, Sharks by 14 running away with the match in the final 20 minutes.
Will the Knights bounce back with a big win over the Sharks at home or will a trip north prove fruitful for the Sharks? Let us know in the comments and poll below.