Dogs and Sharks attempt to put losses behind them in Olympic Park square-off

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Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks Friday 8:00pm at Accor Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park / Wanngal

The Bulldogs will look to bounce back from a convincing loss to Sydney when they take on a Sharks side desperate to regain any semblance of momentum.

The Dogs have won five straight matches at Accor Stadium, the site of this Round 17 showdown. They head into this game having won 3 of their last 4 and firming as a side that will likely play finals football in 2024.

Blake Taaffe has been named at fullback after Connor Tracey entered concussion protocols having received a sickening high shot last week. Bronson Xerri has been named to return from a hamstring injury and replaces Drew Hutchison. Skipper Stephen Crichton is among the reserves and could back up following Origin Two while Jacob Preston could return from a foot injury after being named 18th man.

For the Sharks they've lost 3 of their last 4 as their early minor premiership hopes came crashing down. Celebrating Siosifa Talakai's 100th NRL match, the team will be looking for a rousing performance to get back on track.

Tuku Hau Tapuha has replaced Braden Hamlin-Uele on the interchange in the only named change for Cronulla. Teig Wilton has been named among the reserves and is a chance to make his return from a shoulder injury.

Despite the Dogs being unbeaten at home on the road, the Sharks have one massive advantage in this match - time of day. They're 7 of 11 in matches played at night this season, while the Bulldogs are just 3 from 9. Another interesting point is the Dogs average winning margin this season is 19 points, much in line with the Sharks average losing margin at 21 points.

Last meeting: Round 2 2024 - Sharks 25 Bulldogs 6

Who to watch: Matt Burton has been in career best form across this Bulldogs run of form, and he will need that to continue in this one. He's scored 8 tries from his past 10 games (the most he's scored in a single season since leaving Penrith). Crucially though that's come at the expense of try assists, as he's down to just four 4 his first 13 matches. Obviously the Dogs are a stronger team when he runs the ball, but I'm sure there are some members around the club who'd like to see him open up his playmaking some more when they're close to the line.

As usual for Cronulla their be-all and end-all will be Nicho Hynes. He's been criticised throughout their start to the season but he has been relatively strong, albeit plagued by injury. Before that calf injury against Penrith, he'd picked up 10 try contributions in 6 games, and then added another try assist in their loss to the Dolphins. Now with a week off to nurse the niggles all over his body, expect Hynes to come out firing.

The favourite: Cronulla are the favourites in this one

My tip: If Stephen Crichton backs up it might be different, but as it stands I have the Sharks by 10

4. Jacob Kiraz 2. Blake Wilson 3. Bronson Xerri 23. Stephen Crichton 5. Jeral Skelton 6. Matt Burton 7. Toby Sexton 8. Max King 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Samuel Hughes 11. Viliame Kikau 12. Jaeman Salmon 13. Bailey Hayward 1. Blake Taaffe 15. Josh Curran 16. Kurtis Morrin 17. Lipoi Hopoi 22. Harry Hayes

1. William Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Kayal Iro 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Braydon Trindall 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Oregon Kaufusi 11. Briton Nikora 12. Siosifa Talakai 13. Cameron McInnes 14. Jack Williams 15. Royce Hunt 16. Thomas Hazelton 21. Teig Wilton 18. Daniel Atkinson

Referees: Gerard Sutton; Sideline Officials: Phil Henderson, Matt Noyen; Video Referees: Adam Gee;

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