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2021 NRL Round 15 Preview, Cowboys Vs Sharks

Jem Nash previews a big Round 15 clash between the Cowboys and Sharks that could have massive implications for the top eight. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Date: Friday, June 18, Time: 6:00pm AEST

Cowboys Team

1. Valentine Holmes
2. Kyle Feldt
3. Javid Bowen
4. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
5. Murray Taulagi
6. Scott Drinkwater
7. Tom Dearden
8. Coen Hess
9. Reece Robson
10. Jordan McLean
11. Shane Wright
12. Mitchell Dunn
13. Jason Taumalolo
14. Jake Granville
15. Tom Gilbert
16. Lachlan Burr
17. Francis Molo
18. Peter Hola
19. Daejarn Asi
20. Kane Bradley
21. Corey Jensen

Team Changes

IN: Kyle Feldt, Mitchell Dunn
OUT: Justin O’Neill, Peter Hola

Sharks Team

1. William Kennedy
2. Connor Tracey
3. Will Chambers
4. Jesse Ramien
5. Ronaldo Mulitalo
6. Matt Moylan
7. Shaun Johnson
8. Aiden Tolman
9. Blayke Brailey
10. Aaron Woods
11. Briton Nikora
12. Siosifa Talakai
13. Toby Rudolf
14. Braydon Trindall
15. Teig Wilton
16. Jack Williams
17. Andrew Fifita
18. Billy Magoulias
19. Chad Townsend
20. Braden Hamlin-Uele
21. Sione Katoa

Team Changes

IN: Teig Wilton
OUT:
Wade Graham

Referee: Peter Gough

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Cowboys

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Kyle Feldt returns to the side following his State of Origin debut, with Justin O’Neill dropping out of the squad, while Mitchell Dunn returns from suspension, with Peter Hola moving back onto the extended bench. After a brief resurgence, where the Cowboys won three of four matches, they were manhandled last week by a Sea Eagles team without Tom Trbojevic in a 50-18 defeat. They currently sit in seventh position with six wins and seven losses and another win this weekend will really cement their position inside the top eight.

Sharks

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Wade Graham will miss this weekend’s clash after suffering a concussion last week, with Siosifa Talakai taking his place in the starting side and Teig Wilton coming onto the bench. The Sharks come into this game on the back of three straight wins, after scraping home against an understrength Panthers last week. They led 18-0 before the Panthers stormed home to even it up, but the Sharks were able to come away with the victory thanks to a late Shaun Johnson field goal.

PREVIEW

Just one win separates these two sides and every win counts for these finals hopefuls. Working in the Cowboys’ favour will be their strong home record, with five wins from their seven matches at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. They’ll have their work cut out for them, however, against a side full of confidence. After a slow start, the Sharks are beginning to find their groove.

Their three-game win streak has been built on the back of their forward pack, with the likes of Aaron Woods and Toby Rudolf leading the way. They’ll have a battle on their hands against a Cowboys pack that has Jason Taumalolo and Jordan McLean eating metres through the middle.

One of the more intriguing position battles will be between fullbacks Valentine Homes and Will Kennedy. Kennedy has been one of the Sharks’ best this season, scoring eight tries and eight try assists, while Holmes’ running games is always threatening, averaging 171 metres per game, which puts him in the top five in the competition. Two different styles but both dangerous players: whoever wins this individual battle will go a long way to helping their team come out on top.

KEY STAT

The Sharks have dominated this match up in recent times, having won the past six contests, including a 48-10 thrashing back in round, with Will Kennedy and Connor Tracey both scoring doubles.

PREDICTION

It should be a tight contest between two sides battling for a top eight spot, but the Cowboys’ strong record at home should be enough to give them the edge.

Cowboys by four.

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