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2021 NRL Round 25 Preview, Sharks Vs Storm

Aaron Sutcliffe previews the early Friday clash between Cronulla and Melbourne on the Gold Coast. This is what we have to look forward to.

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TEAM NEWS

Venue: Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast, Date: Friday September 3, Time: 6pm

Sharks Team

1. William Kennedy
2. Sione Katoa
3. Connor Tracey
4. Jesse Ramien
5. Mawene Hiroti
6. Matt Moylan
7. Braydon Trindall
8. Toby Rudolf
9. Blayke Brailey
10. Aaron Woods
11. Briton Nikora
12. Teig Wilton
13. Jack Williams
14. Luke Metcalf
15. Braden Hamlin-Uele
16. Aiden Tolman
17. Siosifa Talakai
18. Kai O’Donnell
19. Billy Magoulias
20. Jenson Taumoepeau
21. Jonaiah Lualua

Team Changes

IN: Billy Magoulias, Jenson Taumoepeau, Jonaiah Lualua


OUT: N/A

Storm Team

1. Ryan Papenhuyzen
2. George Jennings
3. Marion Seve
4. Justin Olam
5. Dean Ieremia
6. Nicho Hynes
7. Jahrome Hughes
8. Tui Kamikamica
9. Brandon Smith
10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona
11. Aaron Pene
12. Chris Lewis
13. Dale Finucane
14. Harry Grant
15. Tepai Moeroa
16. Jordan Grant
17. Ryley Jacks
18. Cooper Johns
19. Daniel Atkinson
20. Trent Loiero
21. Isaac Lumelume

Team Changes

IN: Aaron Pene, Cooper Johns, Dale Finucane, Daniel Atkinson, Dean Ieremia, George Jennings, Jordan Grant, Marion Seve, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Ryley Jacks, Trent Loiero


OUT:
Cameron Munster, Christian Welch, Felise Kaufusi, Jesse Bromwich, Josh Addo-Carr, Kenny Bromwich, Reimis Smith, Tom Eisenhuth

Referee: Grant Atkins

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Sharks

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For Cronulla-Sutherland it’s quite simple: win and they’re into the finals. Unfortunately, they’ll need to beat ladder-leaders Melbourne if they are to clinch that coveted eighth spot, with both the Raiders and the Titans waiting to pounce should the Sharks suffer defeat at Cbus Super Stadium.

They come into the game off the back of consecutive victories which includes putting 50 points on the Tigers: Sione Katoa, Ronaldo Mulitalo, Luke Metcalf, and William Kennedy all crossed for two tries before halfback Braydon Trindall guided them past the Broncos last time out.

The Sharks have named Matt Moylan at five-eighth and Teig Wilton in the second row with Luke Metcalf and Siosifa Talakai dropping to the interchange bench.

Storm

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The Storm will be seething after slipping to a shock defeat to the Eels last week, a result which cost them a record-breaking 20th successive win in the competition.

However, Craig Bellamy’s side will have to put that disappointment behind them as they look to wrap up their fifth minor premiership (with the Panthers in second place) despite resting a host of key players ahead of the finals.

Melbourne will be without Jesse Bromwich through suspension and Josh Addo-Carr through injury with Cameron Munster, Christian Welch, Reimis Smith, Felise Kaufusi and Kenny Bromwich all being rested.

George Jennings, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Dale Finucane all return from injury whilst Brandon Smith moves from lock to hooker and Nicho Hynes starts at five-eighth.

PREVIEW

Cronulla will be desperate to hold onto eighth spot, having not missed out on a finals place since 2015, and have done well to recover from a difficult start that saw them lose eight of their opening 10 matches before embarking on a run of five wins in six to keep their top eight hopes alive.

However, should they qualify for the finals, the Sharks will need to find another gear having only beaten one top-eight side all season – that being a 19-18 win against Penrith back in June.

Meanwhile, Melbourne will want to avoid a potential clash with the Rabbitohs in week one of the finals by securing top spot with a win on the Gold Coast; but they did go on to claim grand final success from second position last year.

Losing winger Addo-Carr to a hamstring injury is a big blow to their title chances and the speedster could miss the start of the Storm’s finals campaign as he tries to prove his fitness over the next couple of weeks.

KEY STAT

Whilst the Storm have won the past three meetings between the two sides, Cronulla have a surprisingly good recent record against the reigning NRL champions, having won five of the last 10 encounters.

Melbourne romped to a 40-14 win over Cronulla in round eight earlier this season with centre Reimis Smith scoring a hat-trick.

Notably, all five of the Sharks’ recent wins in this fixture have been by 10 points or less with their last victory coming back in May 2019 when they secured a 20-18 success in Sydney.

PREDICTION

Cronulla simply have to win to secure their place in the finals and with Melbourne opting to rotate their squad ahead of the finals the Sharks should have enough to hold onto eighth spot.

Sharks by 12.

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