2 days ago
Sharks v Wests Tigers preview
The Sharks six-game win streak was snapped in frustrating fashion against an origin depleted South Sydney side, so the Shire-based side take on the wounded Tigers in the first game of Sunday afternoon, where two middling sides try to spring into the promise land.
After their miserable opening month to the season - it seems that the Sharks had found their formula with Matt Moylan and Chad Townsend in the halves. They have movedback to their grinding style although they have had spurts of attacking tsunamis including the thrashing of Newcastle and welcome back their lone Origin representative in Valentine Holmes.
He takes back his role at custodian as the Sharks continue their revolving door of fullbacking with Edrick Lee, who played well in the Souths defeat reverts back to the wing. If the forward pack led by Fifita, Graham and Gallen can dominate a tough Tigers pack they should find a platform to build on.
Conversely the Tigers started the season like a runaway bus - upset victories over the Roosters and Storm - had the fans salivating but the joint-venture has slipped back to the pack. The defense from earlier this season has kept them in games but unable to polish them off - last week's loss to the Roosters highlighted this.
They have plenty of old heads in the side to combat a Sharks side that will match them with the grind, so the game might be decided between the two packs. Both backlines possess some talented finishers and if cult hero Mahe Fonua gets a chance, he'll create something from nothing - but the Tigers need to remain disciplined as the two sides are so similar so handling and penalties may swing it. The Sharks seem to find an extra gear at home so should take the chocolates.
Last meeting: Round 15 2017 - Sharks 24 Wests Tigers 22
Who to watch: Once again the spotlight will be on the halves for this contest. Matt Moylan and Chad Townsend seemed to have clicked into gear in the last month, although they were out of sync against the Rabbits, they should find some space to attack against the Tigers, and if Moylan can repeat the high water mark he achieved against Newcastle and a dry track is conducive to sharp Sharks football.
For the visitors - attack is something they have lacked all season. They have only surpassed 20 points five times this season and while the return of Benji Marshall has been like fitting into a glove, that glove hasn't struck a massive blow in recent weeks. So the talisman and his offsider - Luke Brooks - have to find some ways to strike against the rugged Sharks if the Tigers want to be serious about a finals challenge.
The favourite: Cronulla are more favoured to get the result on a Sydney Sunday arvo.
My tip: Despite their loss last week, it is easily the Sharks. While the Tigers have been defensively sound, the Sharks will throw enough attacking threats at them to make their loss to the Rabbitohs a small drop in the ocean. Sharks by 12.
1. Valentine Holmes 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Ricky Leutele 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 14. Joseph Paulo 15. James Segeyaro 16. Jack Williams 17. Jayson Bukuya
1. Tuimoala Lolohea 21. Kevin Naiqama 3. Esan Marsters 4. Mahe Fonua 5. Corey Thompson 15. Josh Reynolds 7. Luke Brooks 8. Russell Packer 9. Elijah Taylor 17. Tim Grant 11. Chris Lawrence 16. Josh Aloiai 13. Matt Eisenhuth 10. Ben Matulino 12. Michael Chee Kam 14. Alex Twal 20. Pita Godinet
Referees: Adam Gee, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski; Sideline Officials: Brett Suttor, Liam Nicholls; Video Referees: Luke Patten, Henry Perenara;