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2021 NRL Round 21 Preview, Warriors Vs Sharks

Andrew Pelechaty previews the “Super Saturday” clash between the New Zealand Warriors and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks. This is what we have to look forward to.

TEAM NEWS

Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast Date: 7/8, Time: 3pm

Warriors Team

1. Reece Walsh
2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
3. Peta Hiku
4. Viliami Vailea
5. Marcelo Montoya
6. Chanel Harris-Tavita
7. Sean O’Sullivan
8. Addin Fonua-Blake
9. Jazz Tevaga
10. Matt Lodge
11. Euan Aitken
12. Josh Curran
13. Bayley Sironen
14. Kodi Nikorima
15. Bunty Afoa
16. Kane Evans
17. Eliesa Katoa
18. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown
20. Edward Kosi
21. Jack Murchie
22. Adam Pompey

Team Changes

IN: Addin Fonua-Blake
Chanel Harris-Tavita
Edward Kosi
Jack Murchie
Josh Curran
Matthew Lodge


OUT: Ben Murdoch-Masila
Pride Petterson-Robati
Taniela Otukolo

Sharks Team

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

Team Changes

IN: Jesse Ramien
Jonaiah Lualua
Matt Moylan


OUT:

Referee: Matt Cecchin

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Warriors

The Warriors finally broke a seven-game losing streak with a tight win over the Wests Tigers at Lang Park. They had to do it the hard way, coming from 10-0 behind, with a double to Euan Aitken, one try to Bunty Afoa, and three goals from three for Reece Walsh.

While the Warriors’ finals hops are all but gone, they’ll be looking to finish 2021 positively (with upcoming games against Canterbury-Bankstown and Brisbane) and start preparing for 2022, when they’ll welcome back Shaun Jonson and hopefully return home to Mt Smart Stadium.

The Warriors have a few important inclusions to their seventeen for this game: Addin Fonua-Blake, Chanel Harris-Tavita, Josh Curran, and Matthew Lodge.

Sharks

The Sharks are in the five-way battle for spots seven and eight (against Gold Coast, Canberra, St, George Illawarra, and Newcastle); while they were heavily beaten by Manly Warringah on Monday night (40-22), they pegged back two late tries (with William Kennedy and Braydon Trindall both scoring their second tries for the game) to stay in eighth with a 24-point differential advantage over Canberra.

After the Warriors game, the Sharks play Newcastle (a vital “four point” game), the Tigers, Brisbane, and Melbourne.

Jesse Ramien is back after an ear infection ruled him out of the Manly game, while Matt Moylan returns on the extended bench.

PREVIEW

The Sharks have it all to play for here: with a relatively easy run home, they can feasibly finish as high as seventh. Even the Storm game become winnable if Craig Bellamy decides to rest his stars before the finals.

With the Warriors seemingly playing for pride (to make the finals, they’ll need to win all their remaining games and hope the teams above them drop a few), the Sharks will want to rack up a big score and improve their -58 differential, especially as either Canberra or St George Illawarra will be ahead of them by Friday night.

Though the Warriors won’t be cannon fodder here: return of Fonua-Blake and Lodge up front will give them more starch, which could allow Walsh to weave his magic.

KEY STAT

Everything’s coming up Milhouse for the Sharks here: they have a 24-15 advantage since 1998 and have won their last two games against the Warriors: 20-12 in Round 17 this year, and 22-14 in Round 18, 2020.

PREDICTION

With so much to play for, the Sharks will be eyeing a big win here. Expect the Warriors to compete early, but the Sharks should pull away and win comfortably.

Sharks by 16.

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