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2022 NRL Round 2 Preview, Sharks Vs Eels

Nathan Smith previews the Cronulla Sharks hosting the Parramatta Eels. Here’s what we have to look forward to.

MATCHDAY NEWS

MATCHDAY SCHEDULE

Cronulla Sharks Vs Parramatta Eels
Venue: PointsBet Stadium, Sydney
Date: Saturday 19th March, 5.30pm

MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS

Related: NRL Team List Tuesday

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Sharks: 1. William Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Ronaldo Mulitalo 5. Matt Ikuvalu 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Dale Finucane 14. Aiden Tolman 15. Siosifa Talakai 16. Royce Hunt 17. Andrew Fifita 18. Luke Metcalf 19. Cameron McInnes 20. Connor Tracey 21. Jenson Taumoepeau 22. Lachlan Miller 23. Jayden Berrell 24. Franklin Pele

Cronulla Sharks name the same 17 that went close to taking the two points last week. Craig Fitzgibbon will be in charge officially for the first time of the year after missing last week’s game due to COVID.

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Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Waqa Blake 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Tom Opacic 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Isaiah Papali’i 13. Oregon Kaufusi 14. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Bryce Cartwright 16. Ray Stone 17. Nathan Brown 18. Jakob Arthur 19. Mitch Rein 20. Ky Rodwell 21. Hayze Perham 22. Wiremu Greig 23. Solomone Naiduki 24. Samuel Loizou

Parramatta has been forced to reshuffle the back-line with the injury of Sean Russell, with Waqa Blake moving out to wing while Tom Opacic coming in to play centre. Oregon Kaufusi replaces the injured Ryan Matterson at lock while Bryce Cartwright and Nathan Brown both come onto the bench, with Jake Arthur dropped to reserves.

Referee: Peter Gough

MATCHDAY PREVIEW

With round one in the books, the season is well and truly underway. Though it’s simply not possible to gauge any side’s 2022 form after only one game, we can begin to form some semblance of an idea as to what different teams’ strengths and weaknesses are.

The Sharks will rue last week’s loss to the Raiders, after having all but wrapped up the win when Matt Moylan knocked over his first field goal in six years to give them a 19-18 lead. With minutes left on the clock, the Raiders found a way to cross, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Despite this, the Sharks showed plenty of promise in their performance. This week, they make their long-awaited return home after a two-year absence and will be looking to firmly plant an exclamation mark on the phrase “we’re back”.

Parramatta is a team that knows about returning home with aplomb. Two years ago, they did just that when the rebuilt CommBank Stadium was opened for business. Round one was similarly an opportunity for a confident return of sorts, with the Eels playing their first home game since mid last year. The game featured some fantastic attack from a side touted as a potential premiership threat, however, also featured some dreadful handling errors and poor defensive reads. Ultimately, they were lucky enough to scrape through with the win and will go into this week knowing there’s plenty to improve on.

The Sharks Vs Eels games have taken on a special meaning over the past decade after the untimely death of Johnny Mannah, who had played for both clubs. They will play for the Johnny Mannah Cup, which the Eels have held since 2019. More importantly, the clubs aim to raise money and awareness for Lymphona Australia.

It’s fair to say that both sides will have a common improvement they’ll be seeking to implement: defence. Between them, they conceded nine tries last week. This will make for an interesting contest, as both sides also looked strong in attack. This game may very well become another score-fest, with defensive woes aplenty.

The Sharks will see one clear weakness in the Eels’ team – the right edge. It seems an unending nightmare for Parramatta, with the combination of Blake Ferguson and Waqa Blake struggling to gel defensively in years gone by. Last week, it was Bailey Simonsson and Will Penisini who were found out on multiple occasions. Expect Fitzgibbon to direct his troops down that edge to test them out.

As for the Eels, there was one glaring issue with the Sharks that they will look to take advantage of. The new combination of Nicho Hynes and Matt Moylan struggled with fifth tackle options. Though one can expect players who have as much class as these two to grow as the year goes on, the Eels will likely send plenty of traffic their way on the last to force poor decisions.

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INTERESTING FACTS

  • These two teams have played each other on 89 occasions (pre-dating NRL), with the Sharks having won slightly more than the Eels with 47 to 42.
  • The Eels have won their last two matches against the Sharks. The last time the Sharks chalked up a victory against the Eels was in 2019.
  • The Sharks have a huge advantage returning home, with their record against the Eels at PointsBet Stadium readin 24 wins and 14 losses.

MATCHDAY PREDICTION

Parramatta Eels 1-12

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