The final round before finals is upon us as an out-of-form Cronulla side head to Newcastle to take on a Knights outfit playing for nothing more than pride.
Newcastle will finish with the wooden spoon unless they can rack up a big score against the Sharks while they would also require the Tigers to lose. Newcastle will still want to end their season on a high and will be determined to improve from last week’s defeat against Canberra.
The Sharks’ inconsistency reared its ugly head again last week in a narrow loss to Sydney Roosters. A win in the final round will send them into the finals on a high and could earn a top four finish depending on results elsewhere.
2017 – Rd 5 Sharks 19 def. Knights 18 at Southern Cross Group Stadium
2016 – Rd 20 Sharks 36 def. Knights 4 at Southern Cross Group Stadium
2016 – Rd 10 Sharks 62 def. Knights 0 at McDonald Jones Stadium
2015 – Rd 15 Sharks 30 def. Knights 28 at McDonald Jones Stadium
2015 – Rd 6 Sharks 22 def. Knights 6 at Southern Cross Group Stadium
The Sharks have dominated this fixture over the past couple of years are on a five game winning streak against Newcastle.
Two of those wins have come at the McDonald Jones Stadium and on their last trip to Newcastle, they thrashed the hosts 62-0 on the way to becoming the Premiers.
The closest encounter between the two sides came earlier this year, with the Knights losing by a single point in Cronulla.
|Nathan Ross||1||1||Valentine Holmes|
|Ken Sio||2||2||Sosaia Feki|
|Dane Gagai||3||3||Kurt Capewell|
|Peter Mata’utia||4||4||Ricky Leutele|
|Shaun Kenny-Dowall||5||5||Gerard Beale|
|Jack Cogger||6||6||James Maloney|
|Trent Hodkinson||7||7||Chad Townsend|
|Jacob Saifiti||8||8||Andrew Fifita|
|Danny Levi||9||9||Jayden Brailey|
|Josh King||10||10||Matt Prior|
|Lachlan Fitzgibbon||11||11||Luke Lewis|
|Jamie Buhrer||12||12||Wade Graham|
|Mitchell Barnett||13||13||Paul Gallen|
|Joe Wardle||14||14||Jayson Bukuya|
|Tyrone Amey||15||15||Chris Heighington|
|Sam Stone||16||16||Jeremy Latimore|
|Mickey Paea||17||17||James Segeyaro|
|Brendan Elliot||18||18||Joseph Paulo|
|Pasami Saulo||19||19||Fa’amanu Brown|
|Jaelen Feeney||20||20||Jesse Ramien|
|Chanel Mata’utia||21||21||Jack Bird|
The Facts Of The Matter
The Knights will play their final game of the season in front of a home crowd and still harbour hopes of avoiding the dreaded wooden spoon.
After back-to-back loses where they conceded 40+ points, the Knights will need to get their defence in order to avoid another heavy defeat. Prior to those losses, the Knights won three straight games. They were showing big improvements and will need to regather that form to score points against a defensively sound Cronulla outfit.
The defending Premiers find themselves outside of the top four and could drop down to seventh in the table should they lose the regular season finale.
The Sharks will be hoping key man James Maloney can find form again after returning from a hand injury. They have struggled in attack with pressure and possession not always converting into points on the scoreboard. Untimely errors and penalties have also cost them in multiple games this season.
The Sharks should be able to rise to the occasion against a Knights side which has leaked a large number of points in recent weeks. If Cronulla’s attack is on form, then it could be another unpleasant watch for the home crowd. Sharks by 16.
Will the Sharks get a win before the end of the season, or can the Knights finish 2017 on a high? Let us know in the poll and comments below.
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