Chloe Schibeci previews the Sunday afternoon game between the Tigers and Sharks, which will see one team into the 2019 finals series.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Tigers have won their last two games, scoring over forty points against the Knights and the Dragons. A win at home on Sunday is crucial if they want to cement their place in the top eight.
The Sharks had a 26-point win over the Warriors in round 23, before a disappointing result against the Raiders at home last Sunday, where they were once again let down by conversions.
Josh Reynolds has been named to play his 150thNRL game on Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, Moses Mbye and Robbie Farah, who have both been injured since round 21, have been named in the reserves, and will be monitored throughout the week to determine if they are fit to play on Sunday afternoon.
Tigers’ Squad: 1. Corey Thompson, 2. Robert Jennings, 3. Paul Momirovski, 4. Esan Marsters, 5. David Nofoaluma, 6. Benji Marshall, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Thomas Mikaele, 9. Josh Reynolds, 10. Oliver Clark, 11. Luke Garner, 12. Chris Lawrence, 13. Ryan Matterson, 14. Matthew Eisenhuth, 15. Elijah Taylor, 16. Alex Twal, 17. Michael Chee-Kam, 18. Tommy Talau, 19. Chris McQueen, 20. Moses Mbye, 21. Robbie Farah
The Sharks have included Matt Moylan and Shaun Johnson, however, will be keeping an eye on and assessing their injuries in the lead up to the game on Sunday. Sosaia Feki has also been named, replacing Sione Katoa, who has been left out of the 21-man squad.
Sharks’ Squad: 1. Josh Dugan, 2. Sosaia Feki, 3. Bronson Xerri, 4. Josh Morris, 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo, 6. Shaun Johnson, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Jayden Brailey, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Briton Nikora, 12. Wade Graham, 13. Paul Gallen, 14. Kurt Capewell, 15. Jack Williams, 16. Andrew Fifita, 17. Braden Hamlin-Uele, 18. Billy Magoulias, 19. Blayke Brailey, 20. Kyle Flanagan, 21. Matt Moylan
HEAD TO HEAD
It has been over a year since the Sharks and Tigers last played against each other. Their last meeting was in June of last year, where the Sharks won 24 points to 16. The previous meeting, the Sharks also won, scoring 24 points to the Tigers’ 22. Overall, the Tigers are dominant in the history between the sides, winning 17 from 30 games over the last two decades.
The Tigers are coming off two big wins, hoping to carry that momentum forward to secure their spot in the finals series. They will host Cronulla at Leichardt Oval for Robbie Farah’s final NRL game. Meanwhile, the Sharks are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Canberra Raiders in what was captain Paul Gallen’s final home game at PointsBet Stadium.
Both sides currently sit on 24 competition points, and, depending on the result of not only their game, but Broncos v Bulldogs, could place as high as seventh. The losing team will finish the season in ninth place, just missing out on the finals series of 2019. It is a big occasion, a key game for both sides.
The battle of the halves, Benji Marshall and Luke Brooks versus Shaun Johnson and Chad Townsend. Assuming Johnson passes fitness tests throughout the week and is able to play on Sunday, this battle of the halves will be interesting, and could be a crucial element in the win for either team.
Benji Marshall played a fantastic match against the Dragons, keeping his sides’ finals hopes alive. His halves partner Luke Brooks also had a great game for the Tigers. Both Marshall and Brooks are crucial players for their side, and fans will be hoping to see them step up on Sunday afternoon in the same way they did against the Dragons last weekend.
Kyle Flanagan was unexpectedly called into the halves with Chad Townsend on Sunday afternoon, as a result of Johnson being ruled out in the warm up just moments before he was supposed to run out and face the Raiders. The side didn’t quite get the result they wanted and will hopefully see Johnson and Townsend back together, leading the side at Leichhardt Oval.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday, September 08
Venue: Leichhardt Oval
Referee: Ben Cummins, Peter Gough
WHO WILL WIN?
It will be a tough game for the Tigers and the Sharks, with a place in the finals on the line. Both sides will have to step up. The Tigers are at home while riding on the momentum of the last two weeks, however, the potential late inclusion of Matt Moylan and Shaun Johnson could be the boost Cronulla needs to get over.
Sharks by 4.