PREVIEW | Cronulla Sharks vs Newcastle knights

The Sharks are aiming for the Top 4, while the Knights are planning for 2019, can the Knights continue their impressive form from last week, or are the Sharks serious contenders this season?

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TEAM FORM GUIDE

Cronulla Sharks

A shock loss to the Sea Eagles in round 21 may have woken up the giant. Since then the Sharks have beaten the Storm away and then the Cowboys, as seen them considered by some as serious title contenders.

Newcastle Knights

The Knights surprised the Panthers in Penrith last week with an impressive win, especially since they were coming off back to back losses. The Knights win was built on an impressive defensive effort.

SQUAD NEWS

Cronulla Sharks

Centre Jesse Ramien (ankle) is out; Josh Dugan moves in while Edrick Lee returns to the wing. Jayden Brailey returns at hooker with James Segeyaro back to the bench. Wade Graham returns to the second row for Scott Sorensen who goes to the bench. Kurt Capewell and Joseph Paulo drop to reserves.

Newcastle Knights

Chris Heighington replaces Luke Yates on the bench. Connor Watson is named in the reserves as he eyes a return from a groin injury and is a chance to start in the halves which may push Ponga to fullback.

PREVIEW

The last time these teams met in round 12, it was a big win to the Sharks 48-10 in Newcastle. Now in round 24 the Sharks are pushing for a top 4 spot, while the Knights are playing for pride.

This game will be a good indicator for how much the Knights have improved this season and a good stepping stone for next season. After an impressive defensive effort last week keeping the Panthers to 12 points, they will need to repeat this again on Sunday, which will allow Ponga and Pearce to provide the direction and attack to give themselves a chance of another upset win.

The Sharks forwards are their key, lead by their fired up prop Andrew Fifita they will be hard to stop. The return of Wade Graham will also complete their pack with an additional work horse to compliment Paul Gallen.

The Sharks will wear black armbands in honour of former (Dragon and Shark) second-rower Lance Thompson, who passed away on Thursday night.

The Sharks older heads have the experience to take charge of this one. The controversy around Andrew Fifita was a hot topic last week but they will be focusing on securing a top-four spot.

Though the Knights are brimming with youth and have troubled plenty of good sides this season, the Sharks have the finals, and potential top 4, in sight the Sharks should come through with the win.

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KEY STATS

Head-to-head: Played 51; Knights 27 wins, Sharks 23 wins, 1 draw
Previous result: Sharks won 48-10 in round 12
Average Points per game 2018: Sharks 20.5; Knights 17.6
Average Points conceded per game 2018: Sharks 17.9; Knights 24.8

SQUADS

Cronulla Sharks

1 Valentine Holmes, 2 Sosaia Feki, 3 Josh Dugan, 4 Kurt Capewell, 5 Edrick Lee, 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Luke Lewis, 12 Wade Graham, 13 Paul Gallen (c) Interchange:  14 Scott Sorensen, 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Aaron Woods, 17 Jayson Bukuya

Newcastle Knights

Nick Meaney, 2 Ken Sio, 3 Sione Mata’utia, 4 Cory Denniss, 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6 Kalyn Ponga, 7 Mitchell Pearce (c), 8 Herman Ese’ese, 9 Danny Levi, 10 Daniel Saifiti, 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12 Aidan Guerra, 13 Mitch Barnett Interchange:  14 Jamie Buhrer (c), 15 Chris Heighington, 16 Pasami Saulo, 17 Josh King

THE IMPORTANT DETAILS

Date: Sunday 26th August
Venue: Southern Cross Group Stadium
Kick-off: 2pm
Referee: Jon Stone, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski

WHO WILL WIN?

The Sharks at home should win by 10 points

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