Matt Pritchard previews the opening Super Saturday clash between the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks to be played at CommBank Stadium.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Vs Cronulla Sharks
Venue: CommBank Stadium
Date: Saturday July 2, 3pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Bulldogs: 1. Jake Averillo 2. Jacob Kiraz 3. Aaron Schoupp 19. Declan Casey 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Max King 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Tevita Pangai Junior 14. Zach Dockar-Clay 15. Corey Waddell 16. Joe Stimson 17. Kurtis Morrin 21. Jayden Tanner 22. Harrison Edwards
Corey Allan has been scratched from the Bulldogs side with a groin problem which allows twenty-two-year-old Declan Casey to debut for the club in the centres. Interim coach Mick Potter will also miss the game after contracting Covid. It’s been a wonderful start to the second half of the 2022 campaign with consecutive wins over the Eels and Tigers, after fighting hard in their loss to the Panthers in round 13.Embed 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. Royce Hunt 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Aiden Tolman 15. Dale Finucane 16. Teig Wilton 17. Andrew Fifita 18. Connor Tracey 21. Jesse Colquhoun
No changes to the Sharks starting line-up that beat the Gold Coast Titans in Coffs Harbour on June 18. Since falling in a Magic Round shocker to the Canberra Raiders, they’ve won three of their last four including a scrappy win last start against the Titans. A victory here presents an opportunity to remain in the top four, depending how the Broncos and Eels travel this weekend.
Referee: Ashley Klein
The opening Super Saturday game may have been a formality on paper a month back when the Bulldogs were in crisis after Trent Barrett was axed. Fast forward to the start of July and this game will be a huge test for the Sharks given the form of the Bulldogs.
Matt Burton has been a key factor in the Bulldogs climb up the ladder and is coming off a wonderful debut for New South Wales in their demolition against Queensland in Perth last Sunday. His kicking game, especially the high swirling punt, might be the most lethal kick in the NRL at the moment. It could be a difficult afternoon for the Sharks custodian Will Kennedy should he fail to diffuse that play.
There now seems to be a belief in the Bulldogs side that no mountain is too tall to climb, and they’ll commit to a game completely. Is this the end of the old Bulldogs side which turned up to play and provided little enthusiasm for their fans?
It almost feels the Sharks are the accidentally in the top four given their poor effort in Magic Round and having beaten the Titans twice in four matches by seven points and eight points respectively. The interest will be in how Siosifa Talakai returns after being part of the Blues Origin team. After scoring five tries in five games, Talakai has just scored one in his last seven. The Origin selection and learning from the Blues best over the last few weeks might just help Talakai rediscover his form out on the edge.
Will it be the kicking game of Burton, or the flair of Nicho Hynes at five-eighth that will determine the result? With the wet weather in Sydney kicking might hold the key to how the game plays out.Embed from Getty Images
The Bulldogs have gone from the Dogs of Bore to the 1980’s Razzle Dazzle entertainers since Mick Potter has taken over as interim coach. Should they crack the 20-point barrier this weekend, it would be the first time since the last three games in 2017 that the Bulldogs have crossed that mark since in three consecutive games (30-16 vs Manly, 26-14 vs Gold Coast, 26-20 vs Dragons). In that time, they’ve had Dean Pay, Steve Georgallis, Trent Barrett and now Mick Potter in charge of the squad.
Bulldogs by 4
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