Rd 21 Preview: New Zealand Warriors vs Cronulla Sharks

Date: Saturday August 1, 2015

Venue: Mount Smart Stadium

Kick-Off: 5pm NZ time, 3pm AEST

New Zealand Warriors: 1. Sam Tomkins, 2. Ken Maumalo, 3. Konrad Hurrell, 4. Solomone Kata, 5. Manu Vatuvei, 6. Chad Townsend, 7.Tuimoala Lolohea, 8. Jacob Lillyman, 9. Nathan Friend, 10. Albert Vete, 11. Ben Matulino, 12. Simon Mannering, 13. Sebastine Ikahihifo, Interchange: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Raymond Faitala-Mariner, 16. Charlie Gubb, 17. Sam Lisone, 18. Sione Lousi, 21.Jonathan Wright

Cronulla Sharks:  1. Michael Gordon, 2. Sosaia Feki, 3. Gerard Beale, 4. Ricky Leutele, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Jack Bird, 7. Jeff Robson, 8. Chris Heighington, 9. Michael Ennis, 10. Sam Tagataese, 11. Anthony Tupou, 12. Wade Graham, 13. Paul Gallen, Interchange: 14. Ben Barba, 15. Matt Prior, 16. Tinirau Arona, 17. Jayson Bukuya, 21. Junior Roqica


New Zealand Warriors face life without Shaun Johnson when they host the traveling Cronulla Sharks at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday.

Johnson’s season ending ankle injury couldn’t have come at a worse time as they try to hold onto eighth spot with Canberra Raiders and St George-Illawarra Dragons on their heals just two points on the other side of the eight.  It continues a long casualty ward in Auckland with Ben Henry, Ngani Laumape and Thomas Leuluai already out for the season.

Tuimoala Lolohea will be a man under pressure with big shoes to fill as the Warriors look to end a two game losing streak.  There’s late mail that Ryan Hoffman could be available for this game despite not being named in the squad.  The much awaited return of Manu Vatuvei from injury will lift the home side as Andrew McFadden made a raft of changes in this game.  Notably Johnathan Wright and Sam Rapira dropped from the side.

Cronulla are looking for their fourth win on the trot and will be further buoyed by the news that Paul Gallen is to accept an one year contract to stay at the Shire after an agreement was made about his representative future.  They conquered a hostile Belmore crowd last week for Valentine Holmes to slot a penalty goal six minutes from time in victory.

With Luke Lewis out injured, Anthony Tupou returns for the Sharks after a lengthy sideline stint recovering from a broken jaw.  Again the Fifita brothers are missing from the side with the club to sit down and discuss their playing futures early next week.  Junior Roqica is the eighteenth man in their trip over the Tasman.

Both teams possess the try scoring ability out wide with Vatuvei, Konrad Hurrell and Solomone Kata ready to unleash on the Sharks.  For the visitors Holmes, Sosaia Feki and impact interchange superstar Ben Barba are preparing to run circles around the Warriors.  This should be a fascinating game between two teams looking to stay inside the top eight by the end of this round.

Prediction With Shaun Johnson’s absence it’s a hard road to climb for the home side.  The Sharks to win their first at Mt Smart since 2013.  Sharks by 6.



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