2 days ago
Sharks v Cowboys preview
Two sides coming off impressive wins battle it out on Saturday night in a battle of vastly different fortunes in season 2018.
Cronulla come into the game off the back of an impressive win against the Melbourne Storm whilst the Cowboys took an upset win over the Brisbane Broncos despite slipping into the wooden spoon spot on the ladder.
The Sharks stamped their Premiership potential with an impressive 17-14 victory over one of the premiership favourites in the Storm. The statistics weren't ultra-impressive for either side with the Sharks completing at just 72% for the match with 11 errors.
Whilst not super impressive, the win was an important confidence boost for the Sharks who were able to keep the Storm relatively quiet whilst absorbing large amounts of pressure and a large penalty account against them. The win has lifted the questions over the quality of the Sharks this season and if they can put on a run in the last three weeks of the season they can secure a spot in or close to the top four.
Through 21 matches their season to date is identical to their 2017 campaign with 13 wins and 8 losses for the Shire boys. The Sharks' attack is again almost a replica of their efforts with just 13 points more scored in 2018 compared with 2017 whilst in defence there is marginal difference with 20 more points conceded this season compared to 2017.
North Queensland come into the match sitting in last spot despite managing to pull of an impressive upset victory last time out against the Brisbane Broncos in Townsville. The Cowboys have battled this season with just six wins for the year, however their 34-30 victory over the Broncos will be a confidence boost for the last three rounds.
Last Thursday, they were able to dominate possession although scores flipped around before the Broncos opened up a 30-16 lead - then the Cowboys came home with three unanswered tries in the final 17 minutes to take a 34-30 win. The performance from the Townsville club was arguably their best in 2018 with a complete all-round showing, featuring dominance in possession as well as a 84% completion rate with just five errors for the match.
Last meeting: Round 1 2018 - Cowboys 20 Sharks 14
The Cowboys have won the past two clashes between the sides although the previous four matches were all won by the Sharks. Overall, the Sharks have won 27 of the 46 matches played.
Who to watch: Chad Townsend - The form of Townsend has been up and down in recent weeks and the halfback has been copping the ire of Sharks fans. The majority of the Sharks attack goes through Townsend and he needs to be on song if the Sharks are going to push for the top 4. The talent is there for Chad Townsend but he needs to start to show it again to ensure that he keeps his spot as the first-choice halfback for the Sharks.
Coen Hess - The Cowboys second-rower became a fan favourite with his demolishing size and strength during the Cowboys run to their grand final run. Over time, Hess' level has slipped and now has been leaving a fair bit to be desired both in attack and in particular defence. The damage has seemed to come out of the running game of Coen Hess whilst defensively in 2018 he has come up with some critical misses that have cost the Cowboys this season
The favourite: The Sharks are the favourites for the clash due to their win over the Storm last weekend and the fact the game is being played at Shark Park.
My tip: There were glimpses of the Cowboys of old last Thursday night but the season on the whole for the Cowboys has been poor, the loss of Jason Taumalolo is a big one for the Cowboys. The Sharks will be boosted by returning to Shark Park and off the back of the win against the Storm they should be able to carry on their winning form. The game will be close but the Sharks will have enough to beat the Cowboys. Sharks by 10.
1. Valentine Holmes 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Josh Dugan 6. Matt Moylan 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 15. James Segeyaro 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 12. Scott Sorensen 13. Paul Gallen 14. Kurt Capewell 16. Aaron Woods 17. Jayson Bukuya 18. Joseph Paulo
1. Te Maire Martin 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Justin O'Neill 4. Kane Linnett 5. Gideon Gela-mosby 6. Jake Clifford 7. Johnathan Thurston 17. Scott Bolton 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. John Asiata 14. Ben Hampton 15. Francis Molo 16. Corey Jensen 18. Ethan Lowe
Referees: Matt Cecchin, Peter Gough; Sideline Officials: Jarrod Cole, Clayton Sharpe; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Ben Galea;