Matt Attard previews the Sunday evening clash between the Sharks and the Bulldogs. This is what we have to look forward to.
Cronulla are struggling for cohesion and consistency, becoming the first team to lose to the lowly Dragons, just a week after defeating the Cowboys.
The return of Kieran Foran may have the Bulldogs looking much better, however they still have some way to go before challenging for the top eight. This was evident when they were outclassed in every facet by the Roosters last week.
1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Mawene Hiroti 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Jack Williams 14. Toby Rudolf 15. Braden Hamlin-Uele 16. Siosifa Talakai 17. Royce Hunt 18. Scott Sorensen 19. Connor Tracey 20. Bryson Goodwin 21. Matt Moylan.
1. Will Hopoate 2. Christian Crichton 3. Reimis Smith 4. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 5. Jake Averillo 6. Kieran Foran 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Renouf To’omaga 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Adam Elliott 14. Kerrod Holland 15. Dean Britt 16. Sauaso Sue 17. Ofahiki Ogden 19. Sione Katoa 20. Brandon Wakeham 21. Morgan Harper 22. Jack Cogger.
The Sharks have the wood over the Bulldogs, winning six of the last seven meetings between the two. Historically these clashes have been very close.
In round 15 last year the Bulldogs snuck home by two points. In round 11, 2018, a converted try was the margin: seeing the Sharks take the spoils following a one-point win in their other clash.
With both teams leaking points this might not be low scoring, but the margin could again be a close one if history is anything to go by.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Shaun Johnson v Kieran Foran
Both senior playmakers have the ability to turn a game on its head. Even last week against the dominant Roosters it was Foran who looked most likely with a try, a couple of half line breaks and eight attacking kicks.
For Johnson, he must feel he has the weight on his shoulders. He too is on a massive pay packet and fans expect him to deliver every week. He needs to rediscover the electric form that once saw him dubbed the best player in the world.
Johnson was decent last week, but the Sharks would be asking for more. He set up a try and a line break and also took on the line 14 times. These are the sort of stats you expect, but unfortunately he couldn’t come up with the right play on a number of occasions.
For the first time this season I’m backing the Bulldogs to come away with the spoils. A raft of team changes has them looking more likely than the beginning of the season, and with Cronulla’s hot-and-cold form the Bulldogs have an opportunity they have to take.
Bulldogs by eight.
Date: Sunday June 21.
Venue: BankWest Stadium, Sydney.