The Warriors and Sharks will go head to head on Friday at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland. The Sharks have done exceptionally well this season as they are currently sitting at 4th on the NRL ladder and have a total of 12 wins, while the Warriors are 12th and have a total of 7 wins. It will be interesting to see whether the Warriors can pull together a surprising win or if the Sharks will continue with their winning ways.
Last time out
Once again, it was a rather sad story for the Warriors. The team played the best they have all season but unfortunately it wasn’t enough as a few decisions didn’t go their way and the bounce of the ball wasn’t in their favour. Even though they were missing their star player and main weapon of attack; Shaun Johnson, the team pulled together and displayed a new sense of excitement and energy as each time they reached the line it looked as though they were about to score. The Panthers managed to put the nail in the coffin at the 80th minute as they got a run away try which resulted in a 12-24 win to the Panthers
The Sharks had a far more successful game in round 20 as they beat the Rabbitohs 26-12. The Sharks had the added incentive to get the win for second rower Luke Lewis who played his 300th NRL game. The milestone for their fellow team-mate proved to make a huge difference as the Sharks came out firing with a determined attitude as they dominated the first half while the Rabbitohs looked half asleep. The second half saw the Sharks give the opposition a small taste of victory as they allowed them to sneak up behind them leaving only a two point deficit – but it was shortly lived as the Sharks secured two more tries and won the game.
Playing at Mount Smart Stadium seems to give the Warrior’s a fire in their belly that does not exist when they play away from home. The team currently has the second-best home record in the NRL as they have won six from their nine home games this season. Although this gives the Warriors an advantage, the Sharks have dominated throughout the entire 2017 season and currently sit third in the competition with metres gained this year with an impressive 1644 per match. The key battle will be whether the Warrior’s home advantage will be enough to out-play one of the strongest teams in the competition this season.
My prediction for this match is the Warriors will put up a strong fight and the game will be an arm wrestle till half way through the second half. Ultimately the Sharks will have more in them to last the full 80 and will score additional points in the last quarter of the game to secure themselves the win.
Sharks by 8
New Zealand Warriors vs Cronulla Sharks at Mount Smart Stadium Auckland, 8.00pm (NZT) Friday
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c)
13Paul Gallen (c)