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2021 NRL Round 17 Preview, Sharks Vs Warriors

Nathan Smith previews the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks up against the New Zealand Warriors. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Date: Sunday 11th of July, Time: 4:05pm

Sharks

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

Team Changes

IN: Andrew Fifita, Luke Metcalf, Will Chambers
OUT:

Warriors

1. Reece Walsh
2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
3. Rocco Berry
4. Marcelo Montoya
5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
6. Kodi Nikorima
7. Sean O’Sullivan
8. Addin Fonua-Blake
9. Wayde Egan
10. Matt Lodge
11. Eliesa Katoa
12. Bayley Sironen
13. Jazz Tevaga
14. Kane Evans
15. Leeson Ah Mau
16. Bunty Afoa
17. Ben Murdoch-Masila
18. Adam Pompey
20. Jack Murchie
21. Taniela Otukolo
22. Edward Kosi

Team Changes

IN: Jack Murchie, Kodi Nikorima, Matthew Lodge, Reece Walsh, Taniela Otukolo
OUT: Chad Townsend, Tohu Harris

Referee: Chris Sutton

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Sharks

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The Sharks lost in disappointing fashion to the lowly placed Broncos last week. At one stage, they seemed certain to win, however a lost ball courtesy of Jesse Ramien enabled Tesi Niu to run away and score, and ultimately end the match for the Sharks. At eighth spot, the Sharks need to be winning as many games as they can to keep their spot, as there are a few other sides, including their opposition this week, who are gunning to sneak into the finals.

Matt Moylan picked up a calf injury during last week’s warm up and remaines sidelined, with Connor Tracey moving to five-eighth to accomodate him. Will Chambers returns this week after missing the Broncos game for the birth of his third child. The only other change is that of Braydon Trindall reverting to the bench.

Warriors

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The New Zealand Warriors lost the unlosable. With an eight-point lead in the final 10 minutes of their match against the St George Illawarra Dragons, they managed to concede two unconverted tries, and finally succumb to a Corey Norman field goal during Golden Point. It’s a loss they’ll want to move on from with a win this week, which would put them on equal points with their eighth-placed opposition.

Reece Walsh returns from a hamstring injury while Matt Lodge will make his Warriors debut. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck moves to the wing to accomodate Walsh while Kane Evans reverts to the bench.

PREVIEW

A lot of the narratives around the ladder focus on the top of the table, the top four or five sides that are finals certainties. However, there’s another angle that emerges around this time of the year, when the amount of rounds left to go hits the single digits. It’s a pretty simple question that has the relevant fans get the calculators out: which teams can still make it, and how many points do they need?

Both of these teams can make it. In fact, the Sharks are currently sitting eighth. Four points separates that spot on the table from 14th, which demonstrates just how tight the lower half of the ladder is. For all of those teams, it’s now a matter of winning every single match, because just one loss lets another side jump your spot.

Both sides have had rollercoaster seasons that has seen highlight wins and lowlight losses. It punctuates the inconsistency of them, which is something that needs to be corrected at this stage of the season.

The Warriors will receive two huge boosts, the first of which is the return of prodigy Reece Walsh. A near-Queensland debutant before a hamstring injury ruled him out, he’s already highlighted this season that he has everything it takes to be one of the game’s superstars. The second boost is Matt Lodge, who has completed a mid-season swap to join the Warriors. A hard-working prop, he adds size to the Warriors pack and is another piece of the puzzle that coach Nathan Brown is piecing together beautifully.

The Sharks will enjoy the return of experienced centre Will Chambers, who despite his age, had his name thrown around for a Queensland jersey this season. Shaun Johnson will be looking to show his 2022 club exactly what they’ve paid for by putting in a big performance. Alas for the Warriors, a strong Johnson performance this round is about eight months too early for them.

Desperation usually creates theatre, and one can nearly be certain that will be the case here. When it’s all on the line, players will do anything and everything to pick up a win. With a finals appearance as the metaphorical carrot looming before both sides, you can expect that they’ll be gunning at each other for the whole 80 minutes.

KEY STAT

The two sides have met 42 times, with the Sharks just edging ahead at 25 wins to the Warriors 17. They’ve only met the one time at Netstrata Jubliee Stadium (the Sharks’ temporary home ground), which saw the home team run out as the winners. Ultimately, their isn’t much to separate these sides statistically, which underlines the similar positions they find themselves on the 2021 NRL ladder.

PREDICTION

A difficult match to pick. Both sides have shown their brilliant best and absolute worst throughout the season. One would think the return of Walsh and debut of Lodge adds a lot more to the Warriors team than what the Sharks have on paper. That said, the Warriors have been in a position with a seemingly stronger team, and still found a way to lost. Overall, expect this match to go close, with the Warriors just edging past the Sharks.

Warriors by six.

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