The Cronulla Sharks hype train is running full steam ahead and every team they face from here in the run home will be looking to bring it to a stop. This week the task falls to the Parramatta Eels who are fresh off the bye in which another incident of drama has managed to produce itself for the week.

Last Time Out

The Sharks survived a close encounter of the Warriors kind as they narrowly prevailed 19-18 with a field goal from James Maloney being all that separated the two teams. It was far from an A+ performance from the Sharks as they were sloppy in attack and failed to convert opportunities into points that they usually would. However as any good team does, they managed to find a way to hold on and come away with the victory despite not being in top form.

The Eels have got their season back on track after a shaky few weeks following the salary cap scandal. They accounted for the Souths pretty comfortably 30-12 with highly rated youngster Bevan French crossed for 2 tries and Australia’s Semi Radradra scored a stunning solo try running the length of the field to score. He’s possibly kept running all the way out of the NRL but that’s another matter entirely.

Key Battle

The Eels forward pack standing up and matching it with the Sharks. Cronulla have one of the best forward packs in the competition and if any team wants to stand a chance of beating them then they have to match it with them in the middle. Daniel Alvaro and Danny Wicks will have to play out of their skins to get Parra out to a good start and if they can do that then they’ll give their team the best chance of causing an upset.

Prediction

This is a tough match to call. The Sharks have a better team on paper but they have been pushed to the limits in their last 3 matches with their biggest winning margin of those games being 3 points against the Cowboys. Before that they had a tough encounter with Manly so the Sharks are certainly not sure things. However the Eels haven’t been in particularly great form lately with most of their wins coming against struggling teams like the Rabbitohs and the Knights. Adding onto that there’s still the uncertainty of whether Semi Radradra will definitely line up against the Sharks on Saturday. Adversity can sometimes rally a team together and as drama keeps piling on for the Eels that could lead to a determined side that could spring an upset.

I’m expecting another close game and surely there’ll come a point where the Sharks are beaten by an unfavoured outsider but right now I can’t see the roll they’re on stopping anytime soon. Sharks 1-12

Squads

Cronulla Sharks
1. Ben Barba
2. Sosaia Feki
3. Jack Bird
4. Gerard Beale
5. Valentine Holmes
6. James Maloney
7. Chad Townsend
8. Andrew Fifita
9. Michael Ennis
10. Sam Tagataese
11. Luke Lewis
12. Wade Graham
13. Paul Gallen ©
Interchange
14. Ricky Leutele
15. Chris Heighington
16. Matt Prior
17. Jayson Bukuya
18. Joseph Paulo

Parramatta Eels
1. Michael Gordon
2. Semi Radradra
3. Michael Jennings
4. Clint Gutherson
5. Bevan French
6. Kenny Edwards
7. Corey Norman
8. Daniel Alvaro
9. Isaac De Gois
10. Danny Wicks
11. Manu Ma’u
12. Beau Scott ©
13. Tepai Moeroa
Interchange:
14. Cody Nelson
15. Peni Terepo
16. David Gower
17. Rory O’Brien

*Tim Mannah and Brad Takarangi are pushing to be late inclusions