The Cronulla Sharks host the Sydney Roosters this Saturday night in a third vs fourth battle that will go a long way in determining the top four standings. A Roosters win would guarantee them a second chance in week one of the finals while a victory for the home side will keep them entrenched in the top four.
Both sides broke two-game losing streaks last round, with the Sharks comfortably winning in Townsville while the Roosters made hard work a resurgent Tigers side. It has been difficult to get a read on the true form of these two, whose healthy positions in the ladder haven’t been reflected in recent performances.
2017 – Rd 17: Cronulla def. Roosters 44-12 at Central Coast Stadium
2016 – Rd 25: Cronulla def. Roosters 37-12 at Southern Cross Group Stadium
2016 – Rd 19: Cronulla def. Roosters 32-20 at Allianz Stadium
2015 – Rd 13: Cronulla def. Roosters 10-4 at Southern Cross Group Stadium
2015 – Rd 5: Cronulla def. Roosters 20-12 at Allianz Stadium
Cronulla have racked up 113 points against the Tricolours in their last three meetings alone. The Sharks have won the past six encounters since falling to defeat in April 2014. Their most recent clash was the most dominant of all those wins with each of their back five getting across the line in their most clinical performance of the year.
|Valentine Holmes||1||1||Michael Gordon|
|Sosaia Feki||2||2||Latrell Mitchell|
|Kurt Capewell||3||3||Ryan Matterson|
|Ricky Leutele||4||4||Mitchell Aubusson|
|Gerard Beale||5||5||Blake Ferguson|
|James Maloney||6||6||Luke Keary|
|Chad Townsend||7||7||Mitchell Pearce|
|Andrew Fifita||8||8||Jared Waerea-Hargreaves|
|Jayden Brailey||9||9||Jake Friend|
|Matt Prior||10||10||Dylan Napa|
|Luke Lewis||11||11||Boyd Cordner|
|Wade Graham||12||12||Aiden Guerra|
|Paul Gallen||13||13||Isaac Liu|
|Jason Bukuya||14||14||Zane Tetevano|
|Sam Tagataese||15||15||Sio Siua Taukeiaho|
|Jeremy Latimore||16||16||Kane Evans|
|James Segeyaro||17||17||Connor Watson|
|Chris Heighington||18||18||Joseph Manu|
|Joseph Paulo||19||19||Victor Radley|
|Fa’amanu Brown||20||20||Chris Smith|
|Jesse Ramien||21||21||Mitchell Cornish|
The Facts That Matter
The Sharks comfortably beat an under strength North Queensland side last week but they will have to move up another gear this time around.
Cronulla started the season with nine wins out of 12 but have struggled for consistency ever since in the defence of their title. Other than last week’s win over the Cowboys, they have only managed to come out on top over the lowly placed Rabbits and Warriors during the last six weeks.
They are unchanged from last week’s win and have looked a lot better since James Maloney and Jayden Brailey returned to the spine of the team. Errors have plagued their season but they were much more disciplined against the Cowboys. Maloney could be key to a positive result against after grabbing two tries and a couple of assists.
The Roosters aren’t in ideal finals form themselves, having won four out of six games since they lost to the Sharks. They haven’t picked up many considerable scalps so a win over the reigning Premiers could send out a message that would be just as important as the points. They were cruising at 16-0 after 30 minutes against the Tigers but needed a late Latrell Mitchell try to prevent a comeback. A similar lapse would prove more costly against the Sharks.
The Tricolours have also named the same lineup from last week. They’ll be asked more questions by the Sharks but they will also present a greater threat themselves. Mitchell Pearce’s short ball to put Aiden Guerra through for a try on their right side was strikingly similar to Michael Morgan’s pass for Ethan Lowe’s four-pointer on the Sharks’ left last week. Watch for plenty of traffic down that side of the field.
This one is hard to call. Their form over the last five weeks is identical and they’ve even had similar score lines against the same opposition in recent months. Cronulla’s home record is astonishingly similar to the Roosters’ on the road too. Roosters by four.
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