Sharks v Raiders preview

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Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v Canberra Raiders Sunday 1:50pm at Suncorp Stadium, Milton

Sharks circle inconsistent Raiders

The Sunday triple-header of matches as part of the NRL's Magic Round kicks off when the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks ‘host' the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium. These sides met back in Round 1 where Canberra held on to defeat the Sharks 24-19 in a back and forth encounter. However, both sides have had contrasting fortunes since the opening round, with Cronulla firmly inside the top eight, while Canberra continues to fade away in the second half of matches.

Well, Canberra didn't fade away last weekend against the Bulldogs holding on for a scrappy 14-4 victory. But, they're going to have to lift their performance by a considerable margin if they want to compete with the top side of the NRL Telstra Premiership. They had a lot of ball in the opposition 20 and let's be realistic, they didn't convert their quality possession into points.

Matt Frawley eased into Jack Wighton's vacant 6 jumpers, showcasing brilliant organisation before scoring a neat solo try by making Matt Dufty fall for a dummy to no one. Hudson Young as well is continuing to thrive on the left edge for the Raiders since his return from injury, his dynamic runs and brutal defence could have the Shark's right-hand defence in disarray. Jarrod Croker left the field in sad circumstances when he hurt his shoulder saving a Matt Dufty try, he'll be on the sidelines and his place is set to be taken by Sebastian Kris. Xavier Savage is added to the bench to replace Kris.

Cronulla on the other hand was brave and gutsy defeating a woeful Warriors side 29-10. They played the best part of an hour without the services of Will Kennedy who was sent off after an old-fashioned coat hanger and even playing a period of the second half with 11 men due to Jesse Ramien's sin-bin for an awful high shot.

Nicho Hynes had his best performance for the Sharks showcasing excellent game management to help get Cronulla through the period where they were down to 11 men. Teig Wilton is another goer in the Sharks pack that is getting better with every passing game. For Cronulla to get revenge after their shock opening-round loss to the Raiders, they'll need to match Canberra's forward intensity and test what will be an inexperienced left edge with yet another change. Will Kennedy and Jesse Ramien are both on the sidelines serving suspensions so there'll be a backline reshuffle. Nicho Hynes shifts to fullback with Connor Tracey shifting to his more accustomed centre role. Ronaldo Mulitalo returns to the wing, and Braidon Trindall returns to halfback. Aidan Tolman is named back at prop, Dale Finucane starts at lock and Cam McInnes shifts to the bench. Royce Hunt replaces Andrew Fifita on the interchange.

Last meeting: Round 1 2022 - Raiders 24 Sharks 19

Who to watch: Well, the pre-season injury to recruit Jamal Fogarty left the Raiders in a whole lot of trouble, but the shining light on a down season has been the emergence of rookie half Brad Schneider. Schneider has taken the number seven jumper by the scruff of the neck this season, taking the responsibility as the dominant kicker while Jack Wighton runs the footy and takes it to the line. Now with Wighton's suspension, it's a really good chance to see how Schneider runs the footy team on his own without the services of the former Dally M Medal winner.

Blayke Brailey is showcasing the faith Cronulla had in him when they let his brother walk on a lucrative contract at the turn of the decade. Brailey's defence and leadership at a young age are a testament to him. Having not missed any more than 5 tackles in a game this season, expect Brailey to be at his defensive best against a tough and resilient Raiders pack.

The favourite: Cronulla is the overwhelming favourite in this one.

My tip: Cronulla will account for the Raiders in this one, even with the outside backs decimated through suspension. They just have too much talent to overrun the Raiders who are still without the services of Jack Wighton. Although I expect Canberra to show a lot of fight and resilience, so I expect it to be closer than a lot of people are suggesting. Sharks by 8.

1. Nicho Hynes 2. Sione Katoa 3. Connor Tracey 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Braydon Trindall 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 13. Dale Finucane 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 14. Cameron McInnes 10. Aiden Tolman 15. Jack Williams 16. Wade Graham 17. Royce Hunt 18. Mawene Hiroti

1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Matthew Timoko 4. Sebastian Kris 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Matt Frawley 7. Brad Schneider 8. Josh Papali'i 25. Zac Woolford 10. Joseph Tapine 11. Hudson Young 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Harawira-Naera 14. Tom Starling 15. Ryan Sutton 16. Xavier Savage 17. Corey Horsburgh 18. Harry Rushton

Referees: Liam Kennedy; Sideline Officials: Jon Stone, Drew Oultram; Video Referees: Matt Noyen;

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