NRL Finals Week 1 Preview: Sharks Vs Roosters

Dylan Jhugroo previews the NRL Finals week one clash between the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and the Sydney Roosters.

Related: NRL Finals Stats Sharks Vs Roosters

MATCHDAY NEWS

MATCHDAY SCHEDULE

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Vs Sydney Roosters
Venue: PointsBet Stadium, Sydney
Date: Saturday September 9, 7:50pm

MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS

Sharks: 1. Connor Tracey 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Braydon Trindall 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Jack Williams 15. Royce Hunt 16. Thomas Hazelton 17. Oregon Kaufusi 18. Kayal Iro 19. Daniel Atkinson 20. Jesse Colquhoun 21. William Kennedy 22. Matt Moylan

Roosters: 1. James Tedesco 2. Junior Pauga 3. Billy Smith 4. Joseph Manu 5. Joseph Suaalii 6. Luke Keary 7. Sam Walker 8. Fletcher Baker 9. Brandon Smith 10. Lindsay Collins 11. Siua Wong 12. Nat Butcher 13. Victor Radley 14. Sandon Smith 15. Egan Butcher 16. Terrell May 17. Angus Crichton 18. Drew Hutchison 19. Naufahu Whyte 20. Corey Allan 21. Jaxson Paulo 22. Dylan Napa

Referee: Gerard Sutton

Embed from Getty Images

MATCHDAY PREVIEW

Craig Fitzgibbon played 228 games for the Sydney Roosters throughout the 2000s. In this time he won the 2002 premiership, a Clive Churchill Medal, and retired as the top pointscorer in the history of the 115-year-old club. He then went on to win another three premierships in 2013, 2018, and 2019 while he held coaching roles at the club.

On Saturday night, Fitzgibbon will have to put that history aside, and field a team and a gameplan with the express intention of ending the Roosters’ season.

But this isn’t the first time Fitzy has coached against his former club. That came in Round 7 where, at the same venue as Saturday night, the Sharks emerged 22-12 winners over the Roosters. That being said, anyone on either side expecting a repeat of Round 7 is in for a surprise.

Eight players who played in the Round 7 fixture aren’t named to play this weekend. Not to mention uncertainty surrounding the fitness of Connor Tracey, Will Kennedy, and Joseph Manu.

The Sharks will have a point to prove after finishing significantly further down the top eight than they did last season. A third finals loss in two years for this side would put serious question marks over their ability to execute in the big games and win the moments that count. You can’t be anything below your best in finals footy, and Cronulla will have to be that against a tough Roosters side.

As for the Roosters, their maturity will be put to the test as they face the task of putting aside their emotionally-charged win to knock South Sydney out of finals contention, and start fresh heading into the finals. Daniel Tupou remains sidelined but Fetalaiga Pauga proved his class as a replacement winger last week, and will need more of the same to get the better of the brilliant Sione Katoa.

One of the more dominant storylines leading into finals week one is whether this fixture should have been played at a stadium with a larger capacity. Opinion is very much divided on that debate but one thing is absolutely for certain – the crowd of 12,000 will sound like a crowd of 30,000 to the players running onto Shark Park on Saturday night.

LAST TEN MATCHES

Sharks 3, Roosters 7.

MATCHDAY PREDICTION

Roosters by eight points.

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