Date: 6th September, 2015
Venue: Remondis Stadium
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 1 Michael Gordon 2 Sosaia Feki 3 Gerard Beale 4 Ricky Leutele 5 Valentine Holmes 6 Jack Bird 7 Jeff Robson 8 Chris Heighington 9 Michael Ennis 10 Sam Tagataese 11 Luke Lewis 12 Wade Graham 13 Paul Gallen (c). Interchange: 14 Matt Prior 15 Anthony Tupou 16 Tinirau Arona 17 Jayson Bukuya 19 Ben Barba
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 1 Brett Stewart 2 Jorge Taufua 3 Jamie Lyon (c) 4 Steve Matai 5 Peta Hiku 6 Kieran Foran 7 Daly Cherry-Evans 8 Jake Trbojevic 9 Jayden Hodges 10 Ligi Sao 11 Feleti Mateo 12 Justin Horo 13 Blake Leary. Interchange: 14 Jesse Sene-Lefao 15 Dunamis Lui 16 Tom Symonds 17 Josh Starling 18 James Hasson
The Cronulla Sharks will look to cement their top four spot on Sunday, when they host the Manly Sea Eagles at Remondis stadium.
A stunning second half of the season has seen the home side move to fourth on the ladder, a position they can hold with a win. The lofty spot on the ladder is precarious, however, due to the side’s negative for and against. Cronulla will know they must win.
The home side have been boosted by the return of Anthony Tupou, with bench x factor Ben Barba also named in on an extended interchange in jersey 19, as he looks to return from an ankle injury.
For Manly, their own second half form saw them near finals contention, though after dropping off the past fortnight, this faint hope is all but over, and can be fully put to bed by the time this game is played, if St George account for Wests Tigers. Nevertheless, the team remains a tough opponent, and will look to finish their season on a high.
Perhaps, a loss of pressure to make the finals will in fact make the Manly side a more dangerous prospect, as they are deadly when playing an ad lib style of football based around the creativity of Daly Cherry Evans. The Sharks side must not take the game lightly, or think a week ahead. If they do they face a must tougher prospect in their chase for a first premiership.
If they can maintain their focus, the Sharks should prove too strong for Manly, despite a poor record against the Northern beaches club including a 28-16 loss at Brookvale earlier this year. The Manly forward pack has been decimated through injury and has taken a further hit this week with Willie Mason suspended, ending his time at the Sea Eagles club prematurely. It is the middle of the field the Sharks need to make certain their dominance.
Manly still have a lethal backline, and give them a sniff they will make you pay. The Sharks will need to look to control field position via their forwards and give their own backline a shot from close range at putting points on.
This game will be a test for the Sharks, but their recent form suggests they should get over the line thanks to their determination and never-say-die attitude. They showed against the Eels last week they will not go away even when backs to the wall and they must show this again in round 26 to continue to mount pressure on a title challenge
Sharks by 4