In the opening Friday night Round 16 fixture, New Zealand Warriors host Cronulla Sharks at Mount Smart Stadium
TEAM FORM GUIDE
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
It was a rare win for the New Zealand Warriors in Townsville, just their third win in sixteen years in the north. The visitors were in control leading 18-8 at the break before the Cowboys got within four. A tiring outfit held on for a seven point victory, keeping them two points behind St George-Illawarra Dragons in fourth place.
Cronulla will be disappointed with the slow start they encountered on their way to being defeated by Brisbane Broncos 20-16 at home in their last outing. The game will be remembered for Corey Oates scintillating try in the corner despite both teams scoring three tries apiece.
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
During the week Stephen Kearney said none of his players from the Denver Test would play. This has now come true with Peta Hiku and Issac Luke unlikely to play. Leading tryscorer David Fusitu’a returns to the side which means no spot for Ken Maumolo. Simon Mannering starts at lock for the suspended Adam Blair.
Aaron Woods made the trip to Auckland and will play on Friday evening and has been named in the seventeen man side. The injury run of Luke Lewis and Wade Graham continues, with Kurt Capewell and Scott Sorensen their replacements.
The first of the Friday night fixtures looks like being a beauty at Mount Smart Stadium. Usually a good qualification for playing finals footy is to have a strong home record. This is something that’s escaped the Warriors this year. Their cause won’t be made any easier by the resting of influential hooker Issac Luke. The return of David Fusitua will give the club confidence going into this game.
Cronulla Sharks have a reasonable record on the road with four wins from seven games but will have to do it without Luke Lewis and Wade Graham. This hasn’t seemed to bother the Shire club in a recent good run where both players have been at times week-to-week propositions.
Some excellent match-up’s across the park. The two full-backs are International quality, despite Roger Tuivasa-Sheck being omitted from Michael Maguire’s Denver Test side. In the centres, the young and keen Jesse Ramien matches up against the big Solomone Kata. Outside the halves, the veterans of Simon Mannering and Paul Gallen lock up the scrum and are influential on their respective forward packs.
The worry is the Warriors home form, not as strong as what their position on the table may suggest. They’ve only scored ten points and conceded 62 in their last two home fixtures. Cronulla might be able to do the job and send the home side to their third consecutive home defeat.
Despite winning four of their seven home games, the Warriors have scored only 116 points and conceded 125. This will be a concern for tipsters heading into the Sharks clash.
New Zealand Warriors: 1 Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2 David Fusitua, 3 Anthony Gelling, 4 Solomone Kata, 5 Gerard Beale, 6 Blake Green, 7 Shaun Johnson, 8 James Gavet, 9 Karl Lawton, 10 Agnatius Paasi, 11 Isaiah Papali’i, 12 Tohu Harris, 13 Simon Mannering Interchange: 14 Sam Cook, 15 Tevita Satae, 16 Bunty Afoa, 17 Jazz Tevaga
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 Kurt Capewell, 12 Scott Sorensen, 13 Paul Gallen (c) Interchange: 14 Joseph Paulo, 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Aaron Woods, 17 Jayson Bukuya
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday June 29, 2018
Venue: Mount Smart Stadium
Kick-off: 8pm (NZT), 6pm (AEST)
WHO WILL WIN?