2015 NRL Match Preview: Cronulla Sharks vs New Zealand Warriors

Date: Saturday May 10 2015

Venue: Remondis Stadium

Kick-Off: 5:30pm (local)


Sharks: 1 Ben Barba 2 Valentine Holmes 3 Gerard Beale 4 Ricky Leutele 5 Michael Gordon 6 Jack Bird 7 Jeff Robson 8 Andrew Fifita 9 Michael Ennis (c) 10 Matt Prior 11 Jayson Bukuya 12 Wade Graham (c) 13 Luke Lewis Int: 14 Tinirau Arona 15 Anthony Tupou 16 Sami Sauiluma 17 Sam Tagataese 19 Pat Politoni

Warriors: 1 Tuimoala Lolohea 2 Jonathan Wright 3 Konrad Hurrell 4 Solomone Kata 5 Manu Vatuvei 6 Chad Townsend 7 Shaun Johnson 8 Jacob Lillyman 9 Thomas Leuluai 10 Ben Matulino 11 Bodene Thompson 12 Ryan Hoffman 13 Simon Mannering (c). Interchange: 14 Nathan Friend 15 Dominique Peyroux 16 Sam Lisone 17 Sam Rapira 18 Albert Vete.


Ben Barba has earned a starting spot for the Sharks as they host New Zealand Warriors on Saturday night.

Just under a month ago he returned from suspension against the Knights on the bench with Jack Bird’s phenomenal rise to the top grade.  Barba came on late in the Panthers game two weeks back but couldn’t land the knockout blow at Pepper Stadium.  Now he returns to the number one jumper as he looks to reignite his career in the spot that bought him so much success at Canterbury.

Barba’s return means Valentine Holmes moves out to the wing with Michael Gordon on the other.  Sosaia Feki misses out on the squad all together.  Chris Heighington’s suspension for a lifting tackle on Jeremy Latimore allows Andrew Fifita to return at prop.  Sami Sauiluma is named on a five man bench.  David Fifita is due back from injury next week while Paul Gallen’s stint on the sidelines is unknown following that hip injury.

New Zealand Warriors languish in thirteenth spot after the Gold Coast Titans broke their hoodoo in Auckland with a four point victory on ANZAC Day.  We will watch with interest to see how much the attitude of the Auckland based side improves after the Kiwis big win over the Kangaroos on Sunday.  Shaun Johnson and Manu Vatuvei having match winning games at Suncorp Stadium.  After being dropped for the Titans game, Konrad Hurrell returns to the starting line-up in replacement of David Fusitu’a.  Sam Tomkins is still a week away from returning from an ankle injury.

This game looks even on paper but Cronulla have the edge with home ground advantage.  New Zealand Warriors will need to break a five year drought at Remondis Stadium if they are to win. Barba is the man to watch from the back as he tries to slice through the Warriors defense.  A forward pack is led by Michael Ennis who’s turning back the clock with some excellent form.  The pack will need to be good against Simon Mannering, Ryan Hoffman and Ben Matulino.

A big assignment for Bird and Jeff Robson up against ex-Shark Chad Townsend and Johnson.  The Warriors will need to continue to work at reducing their error rate as they try to end their two game losing streak.

Prediction The Sharks are entitled to go in favourites but I get the feeling Shaun Johnson found some form in New Zealand’s victory last week. Warriors by 7.

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