Wests Tigers v Sea Eagles preview
3 hours ago | Tim Costello
The finals are lurking and the Sharks are swimming but whether they continue into the top 8 will be up to the Warriors as the two sides meet in the shire on Saturday afternoon.
The Sharks come into the round sitting in eighth spot and if results go their way they, could move up into seventh spot but results not going their way could see them fall down to 10th with a defeat. They come into the game off the back of a scrappy win over the Dragons, where they needed a converted try in the 75th minute to steal victory at home. The week prior, Cronulla were out of form when they slipped 26-4 down against the Panthers at one stage, only to fightback to a 26-20 defeat.
This season the Shire side have tended to mix their form, but significantly they have been better at home where they have only lost three of 10 games this season. The Sharks currently sit in equal seventh on points scored this season which has been a big positive to date. They've lost Matt Moylan for a second consecutive week through concussion, but last week welcomed back Andrew Fifita on the bench after suffering a knee injury against the Panthers.
The men from New Zealand have claimed to be the poorly treated side of 2019 with a number of controversial calls against them this season, but the Warriors sit 12th on the ladder and still have a mathematical chance of making the finals. They've had 8 wins this season and 12 losses plus the one draw that has left them on 19 competition points, and are are coming off their biggest defeat of the season after being beaten by the Roosters 42-6 at the SCG last Sunday.
The Warriors - who finished 8th last season - have had yet another inconsistent year which has seen them show glimpses of premiership winning force but then on other occasions they look more than a class behind the top sides - as they did last week. On points scored this season, the Warriors sit 9th in the NRL but still 50 points the Sharks who sit in 8th on points scored.
Last meeting: Round 18 2019 - Warriors 19 Sharks 18
Who to watch: Shaun Johnson was the star recruit for the Sharks from the Warriors and was expected to be one of their savours this season however the former Golden Boot winner has received more criticism than he has praise from commentators and Sharks fans alike. At times he has dominated, however there have been occasions where he has gone missing like against the Panthers where he stepped up for the final 15 minutes.
Fan favourite hooker Issac Luke returns from suspension this week and will be an important cog for the Warriors in their outside chance for the finals. Luke will bring solid defence and some important attacking knowledge that the Warriors can create if they want to get past the Sharks.
The favourite: The Sharks head into the game as favourites based on their home record and ladder position, however the last time these two sides met was only 4 weeks ago when the Sharks capitulated to fall to an 19-18 loss.
My tip: The Warriors will need to sharply improve if they want to win but up against the Sharks they will find it tough at Shark Park. Cronulla's form at home will be too good to go past especially with the Warriors only winning three of their 9 away games. Sharks by 14.
1. Josh Dugan 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Bronson Xerri 4. Josh Morris 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Aaron Woods 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen 14. Kurt Capewell 15. Jack Williams 16. Andrew Fifita 17. Braden Hamlin-Uele
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. David Fusitua 3. Peta Hiku 4. Patrick Herbert 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita 7. Blake Green 14. Lachlan Burr 9. Issac Luke 10. Leeson Ah Mau 11. Adam Blair 12. Isaiah Papalii 13. Jazz Tevaga 8. Agnatius Paasi 15. Sam Lisone 17. Kodi Nikorima 22. Blake Ayshford
Referees: Gerard Sutton, Gavin Badger; Sideline Officials: Jeff Younis, Jarrod Cole; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Ben Galea;