Its Second player Sixth when the Melbourne Storm host the Cronulla Sharks in a contest that always produces fireworks.
This rivalry has seen some heated encounters dating back to 2016 Grand final where the two sides clashed and then back in round 4 of this season the penalty count was 33 and both sides had a player sin-binned, the game also ended in frustrations boiling over for both sides with some push and shove so there is no love lost between the teams.
Adding to the narrative of this game legendary fullback Billy Slater has announced his retirement from the game at the end of the season, meaning the Storm will be determined to send one of their heroes out on a high.
The Sharks have produced up and down performances throughout the season and this one shapes as an important test of their premiership credentials with only a few weeks left before the finals.
2018 Cronulla Sharks Def Melbourne Storm 14-4 Southern Cross Group Stadium
2017 Melbourne Storm Def Cronulla Sharks 18-13 Southern Cross Group Stadium
2017 Cronulla Sharks Def Melbourne Storm 11-2 AAMI Park
2016 Cronulla Sharks Def Melbourne Storm 14-12 ANZ Stadium
2016 Melbourne Storm Def Cronulla Sharks 26-6 AAMI Park
Contests between the two sides in recent years have been relatively low scoring, tough fought battles with the Sharks coming out victorious in the most recent showdown.
The tight arm-wrestle style of football suits the Sharks and their tough, resilient outfit, but once again in 2018 the Storm have been consistent throughout the year and looking better each week.
|Melbourne Storm||Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks|
|1||Billy Slater||Valentine Holmes|
|2||Suliasi Vunivalu||Josh Dugan|
|3||Will Chambers||Jesse Ramien|
|4||Curtis Scott||Ricky Leutele|
|5||Josh Addo-Carr||Sione Katoa|
|6||Cameron Munster||Matt Moylan|
|7||Jahrome Hughes||Chad Townsend|
|8||Jesse Bromwich||Andrew Fifita|
|9||Cameron Smith||Jayden Brailey|
|10||Nelson Asofa-Solomona||Matt Prior|
|11||Felise Kaufusi||Luke Lewis|
|12||Ryan Hoffman||Wade Graham|
|13||Dale Finucane||Paul Gallen|
|14||Kenneath Bromwich||Scott Sorensen|
|15||Tim Glasby||James Segeyaro|
|16||Christian Welch||Aaron Woods|
|17||Joe Stimson||Jayson Bukuya|
|18||Tui Kamikamica||Joseph Paulo|
|19||Brandon Smith||Ava Seumanufagai|
|20||Cheyse Blair||Sosaia Feki|
|21||Brodie Croft||Kyle Flanagan|
The facts of the matter
The Storm are sitting in second place on the ladder and looked primed for another top 4 finish and run at the premiership.
Storm lost last game out against the Rabbitohs with the major area of concern for the Storm will the penalty count where they conceded 9 for the game and coming up against a gritty Sharks side this is an area that will need to be addressed.
Only other concern for the Storm is superstar number 9 Cameron Smith limping off late in the game with an ankle complaint but he has been named to play and is expected to take the field come Sunday.
Billy Slater’s midweek announcement of his impending retirement will also add extra emotion to the game for the Melbourne side.
The Sharks are coming off a disappointing loss the Eagles who it was expected of them to beat convincingly. Their defense was of concern during this contest ending with 42 missed tackles for the match.
The Sharks left edge attack is where they will look to go with Moylan and Graham combining they look dangerous and capable of opening up even the best defense.
Valentine Holmes has been in scintillating form and the current leading try scorer in the competition. The Sharks will need him at his best if they are to win this contest, his speed and agility on the back of the offloads the forwards can produce make the Sharks dangerous from anywhere on the field.
I’m predicting a tight low scoring match with solid defense from both outfits. With both sides coming off losses last round they will want to bounce back, with only a few games left in the season every game is crucial for the sides battling for positions in the top 8. A big performance from a fired up Storm side will see them slip past a resilient Sharks side 16-14 in what will be a tight contest throughout.
Will it be the Storm or the Sharks celebrating taking two points when Melbourne host Cronulla on Sunday afternoon? Let us know in the comments below.
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