The Canberra Raiders travel to Cronulla to take on the Sharks in an important match for both sides. The Sharks are pushing for a top four spot while the Raiders need a win to keep their finals hopes alive.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Sharks are coming off an impressive road win over a Panthers side that thumped the Warriors just a week prior. The Panthers were admittedly under strength but the Sharks still produced a great team performance to come away with the two points. Matt Moylan starred against his former team and the Sharks will be looking for him to the lead the way once again. Last week also showed how important Wade Graham is for his team. He’s a dangerous runner but is also a terrific player and constantly looked threatening attacking on the left side.
The Raiders are coming into this match with back-to-back wins and are looking to make it three in a row. They never looked troubled last week in a dominant win over a struggling Cowboys team but have a much harder task this week. If they win this match and the Panthers manage to beat the Broncos they will sit just two wins outside the top eight. With a tough run home, a win here is extra important.
In the only change for the Sharks, Jesse Ramien returns at centre, replacing Kurt Capewell.
Brad Abbey comes back into the side at fullback, pushing Nick Cotric to the wing and Michael Oldfield into centre in place of captain Jarrod Croker who will miss the rest of the season.
The Sharks and Raiders met back in Round 10 where an injury-riddled Cronulla team came away with an eight point win. The Sharks are almost back to full strength and will be incredibly tough to beat at home, but the Raiders will be desperate to avoid a loss which would effectively end their season.
After struggling early in the season, Matt Moylan has found his feet at the Sharks and he will be key to their chances in this match and beyond. When he is on, he is almost impossible to stop and he should be full of confidence after leading the Sharks to an important win over his former side.
The Raiders will be hoping that Blake Austin can have a similar impact off the bench as he has over the last fortnight. Austin sparked a miraculous comeback in their win over the Bulldogs two weeks ago, and while he wasn’t as spectacular last week, he still had a solid game. If the game is tight in the final quarter of the game, Austin could be the difference off the bench.
With both teams boasting big forward packs, this match could very well come down to which hooker has a better game. There’s no doubting how important Josh Hodgson is to this Raiders team as they have looked a much better side since coming back from injury. His pace out of dummy half is always threatening and he has a solid kicking game to go with it.
Jayden Brailey probably hasn’t got the credit he deserves, but he has played an important role in the Sharks’ season so far. He isn’t spectacular but always gets the job done and rarely puts a foot wrong. He has his work cut out for him coming up against a player like Hodgson but he just needs to focus on doing his job for the team.
The Sharks haven’t defeated the Raiders twice in the same season in five years.
Cronulla Sharks: 1 Valentine Holmes, 2 Sione Katoa, 3 Jesse Ramien, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Edrick Lee, 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Scott Sorensen, 12 Wade Graham, 13 Paul Gallen
Interchange: 14 Joseph Paulo, 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Aaron Woods, 17 Jayson Bukuya
Reserves: 18 Ava Seumanufagai, 19 Sosaia Feki, 20 Kurt Dillon, 21 Kyle Flanagan
Canberra Raiders: 1 Brad Abbey, 2 Nick Cotric, 3 Michael Oldfield, 4 Joseph Leilua, 5 Jordan Rapana, 6 Sam Williams, 7 Aidan Sezer, 8 Dunamis Lui, 9 Josh Hodgson, 10 Junior Paulo, 11 Iosia Soliola, 12 Elliott Whitehead, 13 Josh Papalii
Interchange: 14 Blake Austin, 15 Luke Bateman, 16 Siliva Havili, 17 Liam Knight
Reserves: 18 Craig Garvey, 19 Jack Murchie, 20 Royce Hunt, 21 Emre Guler
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 20 July
Venue: Southern Cross Group Stadium
Kick-off: 6:00pm AEDT
WHO WILL WIN?
Both teams have plenty to play for in what should be one of the more exciting games of the weekend. The Raiders won’t be an easy beat but the Sharks are playing some good footy right now and will know a win here will go a long way to finishing in that all-important top four.
Sharks by 4