Warriors v Sharks preview

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Warriors v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Sunday 2:00pm at Central Coast Stadium

Sharks wary of unpredictable Warriors as they look to bounce back from horror loss

The Warriors would have been level with the Sharks on points if they had toppled the Titans last week. They gave themselves every chance to win that game and looked the more likely but were unable to capitalise on the opportunities handed to them. A 5-0 penalty count didn't help either nor did a controversial decision to disallow what would have been Jack Hetherington's first try in the NRL.

They are boosted by the return of five-eighth Kodi Nikorima and boom edge forward Eliesa Katoa this week though.

Former Warrior Shaun Johnson is getting back to his best for the Sharks, leading the competition for try-assists but Penrith proved last week that starving the Sharks of possession is the best way to minimise SJ's influence on the game. 

Cronulla's three-game winning streak came to a halting screech last week with a 56-24 thrashing at the hands of Penrith. The loss saw them tumble out of the eight and took away any momentum they had been building the month prior. In all truth, Cronulla's three consecutive wins came against the undermanned Sea Eagles, Bulldogs and Titans - so nothing to write home about.

The Sharks gave themselves little chance of victory last week against Penrith, constantly turning the ball under. Their defence was also frail, conceding a whopping 10 tries in the defeat.

While the Sharks have been on fire with the ball in hand in the past three weeks, they clearly failed their litmus test defending their line against quality opposition.

The Warriors are an easier opponent but Cronulla can't underestimate Todd Payten's men, who have already caused a few boilovers this year. Cronulla will be without Andrew Fifita (hamstring).

Last meeting: Round 23 2019 - Sharks 42 Warriors 16

Who to watch: The battle between the two number nines will be an interesting one. Wayde Egan has shown glimmers of his potential at the Warriors while Blayke Brailey has been quickly improving in his first full season starting in the NRL without brother Jayden. Both have strong running games but are still in the beginning stages of their career and learning when is best to back themselves.

If both teams are loose in their ruck defence look for either Egan or Brailey to dictate the momentum of the go-forward and even eye a sneaky try out of dummy-half close to the line.

The favourite: Cronulla are strong favourites despite their last-start defeat.

My tip: The Warriors are a danger side to face any week of the competition but you get the sense John Morris will have his side fired up. Sharks by 14.

1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 2. David Fusitu'a 3. Patrick Herbert 4. Peta Hiku 5. Ken Maumalo 6. Kodi Nikorima 7. Blake Green 8. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown 9. Wayde Egan 10. Adam Blair 12. Tohu Harris 13. Karl Lawton 15. Jack Hetherington 11. Eliesa Katoa 14. Agnatius Paasi 16. Isaiah Papali'i 17. Jazz Tevaga

20. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 1. Josh Dugan 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Braden Hamlin-Uele 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Wade Graham 15. Scott Sorensen 13. Toby Rudolf 14. Connor Tracey 16. Siosifa Talakai 17. Royce Hunt

Referees: Matt Cecchin; Sideline Officials: Belinda Sharpe, Drew Oultram; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Bryan Norrie;

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