Round 25 at ANZ Stadium, the Bulldogs will be aiming for three successive wins to finish off 2018 on a positive note, while the Sharks have the chance to secure their position in the top four if they get the job done.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
The Bulldogs have been one of the form teams in the NRL winning four of their last five, with three of those wins coming against top 8 opposition. Their 38-0 win against the Dragons last week their best performance of the season.
The Sharks have won 3 on the trot placing them in the top 4, as one of the form teams heading into the finals. Their win against the Knights last week was another tough win with the Sharks running away with the game 38-12 in the final 20 minutes.
The Bulldogs are unchanged, with back-rower Rhyse Martin (knee) named despite failing to finish the game last week. Renouf Toomaga and John Olive are on standby as reserves, while Francis Tualau and Fa’amanu Brown have been cut.
When these teams met in round 11 it was the Sharks who got up 22-16 at Shark Park. The Dogs were still going through their early season salary cap turmoil. They have since settled on their team, and their form over the past 5 weeks has shown that stability brings success.
The Bulldogs electric winger Reimis Smith was brilliant against the Dragons, finishing with a hat-trick at Jubilee Oval. The 21-year-old could be a future representative star. Prop David Klemmer has been in sensational form all year, carrying the pack himself at times. Watch for the enforcer to be at his best. For the Sharks, controversial front-rower Andrew Fifita has been playing his best footy this season over the past few rounds, coinciding with the Sharks past 3 wins. Valentine Holmes will also be looking to cross for his 21st try of the year.
Lachlan Lewis v Matt Moylan. Canterbury’s young gun has looked like a seasoned veteran after making his debut in round 16 against the Knights. His kicking game and defence has plenty of good judges singing his praises. This weekend he faces a real test of character against Matt Moylan. The Sharks pivot is expected to return from a hamstring injury and no doubt will be keen to show his coach Shane Flanagan he is a must selection in the halves alongside Chad Townsend with the semi-finals looming.
Head-to-head: Played 90; Bulldogs 54 wins, Sharks 34 wins, 2 draws
Previous result: Sharks won 22-16 in Cronulla in round 11
Average Points per game: Bulldogs 17.8; Sharks 21.3
Average Points conceded per game: Bulldogs 19.3; Sharks 17.6
1 Will Hopoate, 2 Brett Morris, 3 Josh Morris, 4 Kerrod Holland, 5 Reimis Smith, 6 Lachlan Lewis, 7 Matt Frawley, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Michael Lichaa, 10 David Klemmer, 11 Josh Jackson (c), 12 Rhyse Martin, 13 Adam Elliott Interchange: 14 Jeremy Marshall-King, 15 Danny Fualalo, 16 Ofahiki Ogden, 17 Greg Eastwood
1 Valentine Holmes, 2 Sosaia Feki, 3 Josh Dugan, 4 Kurt Capewell, 5 Edrick Lee, 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Luke Lewis, 12 Wade Graham, 13 Paul Gallen (c) Interchange: 14 Scott Sorensen, 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Aaron Woods, 17 Jayson Bukuya
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Sunday 2nd September
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Homebush
Referee: Grant Atkins, Chris Sutton
WHO WILL WIN?
The Bulldogs will win a close one by 2
Cronulla know what it takes to win a premiership and their experienced players are hitting form as the finals approach. The Bulldogs were great last week and they can be proud of the way they have finished the season. Dean Pay’s men will push the Sharks all the way and give them a good hit out a week before the semis.