Date: Saturday June 21st, 2014
Venue: Remondis Stadium
Home team: Nathan Gardner, Sosaia Feki, Blake Ayshford, Jonathan Wright, Michael Gordon, Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Siosaia Vave, Michael Lichaa, Bryce Gibbs, Luke Lewis, Wade Graham, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Fa’amanu Brown, Chris Heighington, Anthony Tupou, Sam Tagataese, Tinirau Arona
Away team: Brett Stewart, Jorge Taufua, Jamie Lyon, Steve Matai, Peta Hiku, Kieran Foran, Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Starling, Matt Ballin, Brenton Lawrence, Anthony Watmough, Justin Horo, Jamie Buhrer. Interchange: Jesse Sene-Lefao, Dunamis Lui, Tom Symonds, Jason King, James Hasson, Jack Littlejohn
The Cronulla Sharks will be looking to score their first NRL points since round 10, and their first win since round eight, when they host the high flying Manly Sea Eagles at Remondis Stadium on Saturday night.
It has been a miserable season for the side from the shire, who have been cruelled by injuries and the ongoing ASADA investigation, while their opponents again find themselves near the top of the ladder (2nd).
To make matters worse for Cronulla, the team lost Andrew Fifita for six weeks after he broke his wrist in a training mishap earlier this week.
When the two sides met earlier in the season, Manly won convincingly by a 24-4 margin, and if Cronulla don’t turn things around, the Sea Eagles may improve on that result.
On a positive note for the homeside, they welcome back some of their stars after fielding an almost unrecognisable side in their last start against the Dragons, a game they lost 30-nil.
Todd Carney, Jeff Robson, Anthony Tupou, Sosaia Feki, Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen have all been named to return.
For the Sea Eagles, they have lost star Anthony Watmough after his lifting tackle in the Origin encounter earlier this week has him rubbed out for a few weeks. In another blow for Manly, Daly Cherry-Evans looks unlikely to take his part in the clash.
Cronulla will be expecting Blake Ayshford to lift, his match up with Steve Matai surely to be pivotal, with the Sharks centre seemingly a turnstyle in defence this year. If he doesn’t aim up, the Sea Eagles will score a few tries down his corridor.
For the Sharks, they need to find a way to score points. It sounds simple enough, but it has proved a very difficult assignment for the Cronulla outfit in recent years, especially so far in 2014.
Carney will have to fire and provide the spark if they are to challenge the travelling side, while captain Gallen in helping the Cronulla side in to field position where attacking is possible.
Expect a much improved performance from the Sharks, but Manly should prove too much.
Manly by 10