Andrew Pelechaty previews the second clash in 2020 between the Sharks and Cowboys. This is what we have to look forward to.
The Sharks (8-7) – who have enjoyed a kind draw since the competition restart – received a reality check last Friday, losing 38-12 to Penrith after trailing 22-6 at halftime. Jesse Ramien and Connor Tracey scored the Sharks’ tries. Before that, they had won seven of their past nine games to sit in the top eight.
North Queensland Cowboys
North Queensland’s (3-12) losing streak extended to eight games last weekend, falling 12-0 to Newcastle. They’re still stuck in the bottom four, joined by fellow Queensland teams the Gold Coast and Brisbane. With upcoming games against top two sides Melbourne and Penrith, its hard to see them going any higher. A final-round match against the Broncos at Lang Park could see them finish the season on a high. Maybe.
1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Connor Tracey 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Braden Hamlin-Uele 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Toby Rudolf 14. Siosifa Talakai 15. Scott Sorensen 16. Jack Williams 17. Royce Hunt 18. Teig Wilton 19. Bryson Goodwin 20. Matt Moylan 21. Andrew Fifita.
North Queensland Cowboys
1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O’Neill 4. Murray Taulagi 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Daejarn Asi 7. Michael Morgan 8. Francis Molo 9. Reuben Cotter 10. Jordan McLean 11. Mitchell Dunn 12. Coen Hess 13. Josh Mcguire 14. Jake Granville 15. John Asiata 16. Tom Gilbert 17. Corey Jensen 18. Shane Wright 19. Jake Clifford 20. Connelly Lemuelu 21. Peter Hola.
Cronulla have dominated the head-to-head, with a 28-17 lead. They beat the Cowboys 26-16 in round four this year, with Ronaldo Mulitalo scoring two of the Sharks’ five tries.
BATTLE TO WATCH
Shaun Johnson vs Michael Morgan
The Proctor biting incident aside, Johnson has been a big part of Cronulla’s post-COVID-19 resurgence, kicking 51 goals in 14 games. He kicked three from five in the last clash against the Cowboys, so expect him to have another big night with the boot if the Sharks are in an attacking mood, as well as being busy with his general-play kicking.
Morgan’s had an injury-interrupted season, with just five appearances. Absent since round two, he returned in round 13 against the Titans. He scored two tries in the 31-30 loss to Souths the other week, so if he can find the try line again, the Cowboys could be in with a sniff.
While North Queensland’s season is over, the Sharks (currently in eighth) have plenty to play for. With upcoming games against top eight sides Newcastle, the Sydney Roosters and Canberra, they need to keep beating bottom eight teams – like the Cowboys – to keep their finals spot.
Cronulla by 12.
Date: Saturday August 29.
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney.