Round 6: Dragons v Sharks preview
It feels like we did this only a month ago? Oh, we did.
It's on again. The Local derby down in the 'gong. A rampaging Dragons line-up that has slayed all before them, including this weekend's opponent, look to sweep the series against the Sharks for the first time since 2014.
St George Illawarra have looked impervious in the opening five weeks of the competition, directed around well by million-dollar Ben Hunt which has allowed Gareth Widdop to play a secondary, more roaming role across the field - not to mention the flourishing form of the backline, both Nene Macdonald and Euan Aitken with their monstrous forward pack has the Saints fans lining up for Grand Final tickets (who ever regretted that?)
Will the real Sharks fullback please stand up? The Sharks have used three fullbacks in the first five rounds, with currently, former Panther Matt Moylan tipped to take the role on Friday. Their attack has looked clunky thus far, failing to score more than 16 points in their five games which has left Shane Flanaghan chopping and changing.
Another conundrum for the Sharks boss has been getting livewire winger Valentine Holmes more involved. He has a pair of tries thus far this season and much like, the Sharks, has stuttered through the opening month. If the Sharks are to claim local bragging rights, they need to simplify their game, direct much of the game through their ferocious forward pack to create the space for Holmes and the like to make their magic.
Who to watch: There has been a lot of hype for Euan Aitken thus far this season. The centre helped his representative cause with a decision victory over Greg Inglis last Friday at Kogarah. Now, with the injuries hopefully behind him, Aitken has crossed four times this season and his strength combined with a turn of pace has helped the Dragons to their undefeated start.
For Cronulla - it is easy to either choose Holmes or Moylan as those to watch, but those two come off the back of their forwards. As mentioned earlier, they need their big boys to set the table for the tablecloth that is the backline, in their first game, the Dragons targeted Andrew Fifita, the Tongan-Australian prop needs to produce against the much-vaunted Saints pack.