Julian Vella previews the early game on Sunday afternoon of the NRL Magic Round between the Cronulla Sharks and Canberra Raiders. This contest promises to end in fireworks, as these two teams simply do not like each other.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Vs Canberra Raiders
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Date: Sunday May 15, 1:50pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Sharks: 1. Nicho Hynes 2. Sione Katoa 3. Connor Tracey 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Braydon Trindall 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aiden Tolman 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Dale Finucane 14. Cameron McInnes 15. Jack Williams 16. Wade Graham 17. Royce Hunt 18. Mawene Hiroti 19. Andrew Fifita 20. Luke Metcalf 21. Lachlan Miller 22. Jayden Berrell 23. Jesse Colquhoun 24. Thomas Hazelton
The Sharks are coming off the back of a spirited victory over the New Zealand Warriors, despite the fact fullback William Kennedy was sent off early in the first half, sending them down to 12-men on the field. Things got even worse for the Sharks when Jesse Ramien was sin-binned for foul play as well, but still the Sharks stood tall and dominated the hapless Warriors.
The Sharks will have to survive without both Kennedy and Ramien this week, with both players being suspended for this week’s clash. This has caused a reshuffle in the backline for Craig Fitzgibbon’s side, with the versatile Connor Tracey moving from wing to the centres, and Nico Hynes moving from halfback to fullback. The return of the injured Ronaldo Mulitalo fills the gap left by Ramien whilst Braydon Trindall will get his first start of the season in the number 7.Embed from Getty Images
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Matt Frawley 7. Brad Schneider 8. Josh Papali’i 9. Adam Elliott 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Harawira-Naera 14. Tom Starling 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Xavier Savage 17. Corey Horsburgh 18. Harry Rushton 19. Trey Mooney 20. Sam Williams 21. Peter Hola 22. James Schiller 23. Emre Guler 24. Albert Hopoate
Ricky Stuart’s Raiders picked up just the third win of their season, after grinding out a victory over fellow cellar-dwellers, the Canterbury Bulldogs. It broke a streak of six-straight losses for the Green Machine and although it wasn’t the perfect performance, ‘Sticky Stuart’ will be just happy to get the two-points.
Club captain Jarrod Croker made his long-awaited return to the NRL last week, although it was a happy occasion for the fans to see the club’s leading point scorer of all time back in the NRL, it ended in tears as ‘Toots’ left the game early with an arm injury. Sebastian Kris comes into the run-on side to replace Croker, with Xavier Savage making his return to the side via the bench.
Referee: Liam Kennedy
When you think about Cronulla v Canberra, there aren’t any reasons that standout to why these two really should hate each other, it’s not like they’re local rivals or have a history of meeting in Grand Finals or the like. Sure, they’ve had players leave for each other over the years, but none that really standout that might have caused bad-blood between the two waring fans. But for some reason in the last 10 or so years, these clashes between the Sharks and Raiders have a history of being spiteful and sometimes controversial.
The first signs of angst between the clubs probably came in 2012, in a Qualifying Final at Canberra Stadium. The Sharks had a pretty good season that year, considering they’d finished 13th, 14th, and 15th in the previous three seasons, a finals berth was a good result despite the fact the second half of the year had petered out. The Raiders on the other hand were finishing strongly as they entered the finals, on the back of a youthful side led by firebrand forward Josh Papali’i.Embed from Getty Images
Papali’i was making his mark in the NRL as a real enforcer at that time, whilst the Sharks had their own firebrand leader, their captain and lock forward Paul Gallen. Gallen and Papali’i didn’t take long to lock horns in that match, and traded blows throughout. The Raiders won comfortably in the end, but the controversy didn’t stop there, with Gallen accusing Papali’i of ‘dog shots’ both during and after the game, to light the fire of a rivalry that was born that day in September 2012.
Since then the clash between these sides has always had lots of feeling, but the Sharks had to wait four-years to have their revenge, in the infamous ‘Michael Ennis Viking clap’ match after the Sharks upset the Raiders in Canberra in the 2016 Qualifying Final. Ennis’ antics really stirred up the Raiders’ faithful, which has added more spice to the one of the games’ most underrated rivalries.Embed from Getty Images
The clash earlier this year between these two sides in Round One, was an enthralling match to kick off the season, with the Sharks heavily touted as big improvers for 2022 big things were expected. Canberra shot out to an early lead of 18-0 before the dreaded ‘Faiders’ tag returned for Ricky’s men as the Sharks came back with 19 unanswered points to take the lead. Only some brilliance late in the game through Hudson Young got the Raiders back ahead, before a last-ditch covering tackle from some desperate Raiders’ defenders stopped the Sharks from scoring in the corner.
Despite missing Kennedy and Ramien for this clash, the Sharks start heavy favourites against a Raiders’ team that hasn’t really hit their stride since that first game of the year. Already missing halfback Jamal Fogarty and hooker Josh Hodgson, the loss of their best player Jack Wighton is a setback that the Raiders will struggle to overcome. The Sharks have strike all over the park and are defending as a unit, led by the inspirational captain and lock Dale Finucane, so if the Raiders are to turn an upset, they might need to resort to some familiar dark arts which might see Josh Papali’i turn back the clock to 2012 and get one over the Cronulla lock forward.Embed from Getty Images
Cronulla and Canberra have played each other on 78 occasions, with the wins split evenly with 39 apiece and no draws. Unsurprisingly, this is also the first clash between these two sides at Suncorp Stadium, but not the first in Queensland, with the two sides facing each other on the Gold Coast last year.
Sharks by 12
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