Rhys Sullivan previews a mouth-watering clash between two early season excitement machines
Cronulla Sharks vs Newcastle Knights
Venue: PointsBet Stadium
Date: Friday, April 1st, 6pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Sharks: 1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 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. Cameron McInnes 16. Braydon Trindall 17. Andrew Fifita 18. Mawene Hiroti 19. Jack Williams 20. Luke Metcalf 21. Royce Hunt 22. Lachlan Miller 23. Jenson Taumoepeau 24. Franklin Pele
Siosifa Talakai lines up at centre to replace the injured Connor Tracey, with Teig Wilton returning straight into the starting lineup after missing last week’s clash with St George Illawarra through suspension.Embed from Getty Images
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Enari Tuala 6. Jake Clifford 7. Adam Clune 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Brodie Jones 13. Kurt Mann 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Jirah Momoisea 16. Leo Thompson 17. Sauaso Sue 18. Simi Sasagi 19. Tex Hoy 20. Edrick Lee 21. Mathew Croker 22. Pasami Saulo 23. Dylan Lucas 24. Brayden Musgrove
Mitch Barnett serves the first game of his 6-week suspension, with Brodie Jones returning from injury in the starting lineup. Kalyn Ponga has been named at fullback after being a late withdrawal in Rounds 2 and 3, with Tex Hoy named in jersey 19 if needed. Sauaso Sue is also set to make his return following off season shoulder surgery.
Referee: Ben Cummins
Cronulla come into this game after back-to-back wins over Parramatta and St George Illawarra, and they could have easily been 3-0 had it not been for a last-minute Canberra try in Round 1. Newcastle took their first loss of the season in a courageous but ultimately fruitless fight with Penrith, having gone down to 12 men in the first half after Mitch Barnett was sent off for a sickening cheap shot on Chris Smith.
Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes hopes to continue his hot start to the season against a Knights outfit that let in 38 points last week. But on the other side, the return of Kalyn Ponga shapes as a massive boost to a Knights side that already had plenty of attacking form.
Newcastle has won 31 of the 57 games played between these two teams and has won the last 4 matches in a row. Ponga scored 5 tries over these games, so expect him to have another strong game this weekend. Jesse Ramien scored in both matchups for Cronulla last season, so expect him to play well against his former club.Embed from Getty Images
- Both sides have milestone players this weekend. Aiden Tolman becomes the only active member of the 300 club, while Tyson Frizell plays his 200th game against the side he debuted for.
- This is the fourth time Ben Cummins has refereed a Sharks vs Knights game, with his first coming way back in 2006
- This is Andrew Fifita’s 15th Sharks vs Knights game, moving him to joint 10th.
Cronulla by 4.
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