Monday night football at Allianz Stadium will be a match-up between 1st and 15th on the Premiership ladder. Last year is a distant memory for the Rooster who has suffered through one of the more mediocre seasons in recent year whereas the Sharks are flying high having one a club record 13 straight matches.
LAST TIME OUT
The Sharks traveled to the foot of the mountains as an underdog to take on a Penrith Panthers side minus 5 of their regular stars. They walked away from Pepper Stadium with their record winning streak intact and their premiership credentials for 2016 signed sealed and delivered with another week at the summit of the NRL assured. With strict discipline, staunch defense and an attacking flair there is much to like about a Sharks side who under Shane Flanagan are like the Phoenix rising from the ashes of the ASADA Drugs scandal that had this club on the knees only a few years ago.
If the Sharks are rising from the Ashes then the Roosters are currently chest deep in the ashes with no sign of rising anytime soon. The Roosters came up against a Eels outfit last Friday night who had endured another horror week and would have been excused for not having their minds on footy. The Rooster looked good early and jumped out to a 10 point lead only to fade late in the match and failed to hold off an emotional Eels outfit in falling to their 10th loss of the season. What would hurt even more is the fact that the Eels lost 12 competition points on Saturday morning but still find themselves 2 points in front of the disappointing Roosters.
MITCHELL V BARBA: Both of these sides have some of the most exciting and electric back line players in the competition. With some early ball and a bit of space we could see some entertaining backline play on Monday night with the men at the back both likely to be the key to finishes back line raids. Ben Barba and Latrell Mitchell have both providing some critical contributions for their sides in 2016 and expect more of the same on Monday night.
Ben Barba showed glimpses of his Dally M winning season last Sunday afternoon and the Sharks will be hoping he continues this rich view of from well into September. He power and speed seem to be back and there is a smile on the face again.
Latrell Mitchell was much lauded as the Roosters replacement to RTS who departed Bondi last year for the Warriors. He has not disappointed in his debut year at fullback providing some exciting highlights that have him looking very much in the mould of a young Greg Inglis. The Rooster faithful have had to endure some disappointing matches in 2016 but the signs they have seen from their young fullback will have the fans in good spirits for the years ahead.
The Sharks hold a strong record against the Rooster having sprung several upsets over the last few years in against the odds performances. Holding a 4 win, 2 loss record against the Rooster over the last 3 years is exceptional given the success the men from Bondi have had during that time.
Putting points on the board is something the Sharks have not had any trouble with this year having put 413 points in their victories so far, on the other hand the Roosters have struggled at times with their young and in-experienced halves struggling to find the attacking flair needed to put points on the board.
This game is a danger match for the Sharks who should be expected to win and win well on Monday night. The statistical gap between the two sides is remarkable with the Sharks superior in almost every key statistical category. The Sharks will need to be on their game to avoid a boil over against the Roosters on Monday night. The success of their Origin contingent should out them in good stead to hold off the Rooster onslaught and keep the winning run alive.
Expect a few fireworks early between two strong forward pack and the Sharks to win by 14 points on Monday night football.
SQUADS – Sydney Roosters v Cronulla Sharks, Allianz Stadium, 7pm (AEST) Monday
Roosters: 1 Latrell Mitchell 2 Daniel Tupou 3 Dale Copley 4 Shaun Kenny-Dowall 5 Joseph Manu 6 Ryan Matterson 7 Mitchell Pearce 8 Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9 Jake Friend 10 Dylan Napa 11 Boyd Cordner 12 Mitchell Aubusson 13 Sio Siua Taukeiaho INTERCHANGE: 14 Sam Moa 15 Kane Evans 16 Isaac Liu 17 Connor Watson
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 Joseph Paulo 15 Chris Heighington 16 Matt Prior 17 Jayson Bukuya