NRL Tips expert Steve Green previews the match-up between the Sharks and the Cowboys as both sides put their finals chances on the line.
The Sharks have now lost 5 on the trot, and sitting at 11th, their season really is on the line here.
But there are a few things to note about that losing streak, which should give Sharkies fans some hope, and why I have backed them this weekend:
- Two of those losses were against Raiders and Storm, and two of them were against resurgent Warriors and Broncos line ups that turned up to play
- 4 of those 5 losses were by 2 points or less, losing to the Raiders, Bulldogs and Broncos in consecutive weeks by 2 points (after scoring more tries in each of those games) and losing by 1 point last week to the Warriors. Even against the Storm, they were in that game until the final 20 minutes (trailing by 2 points with 21 minutes left)
“This is a strong club and it is a resilient club, and we will bounce back.” Morris
— Cronulla Sharks FC (@Cronulla_Sharks) 24 July 2019
No doubt they are off their game, but I don’t think their form slump is as bad as people are making out and the pundits that are questioning whether this team has the ‘spirit and hard edge’ of past years are the same charlatans that were calling the Sharks a dark horse for 2019.
While the absence of Fifita and Graham is big, it is the Sharks younger brigade that has me excited about this weekend’ team. Williams and Hamlin-Uele have been given enough praise from me, but I also really like Nikora and Capewell due to their mobility. The Sharks have suffered this year because Woods, Prior, Gallen and Fifita are all big and immobile. Billy Magoulias is the next young gun forward that looks set to get his debut this weekend and I really like what I have seen from him during his development.
With Dugan, Morris, Moylan and Johnson all coming in for criticism for being soft and not cut out of the same cloth as previous Sharks players, I expect the home team to really rally behind their besieged team this weekend.
As for the Cowboys, there is a lot to like about what they are doing at the moment. They beat the Roosters a fortnight ago, and could have beaten Souths if they held onto passes at crucial times.
However, I think both the Roosters and Souths played pretty poorly in those matches and without Morgan in the halves, this Cowboys team is still missing the class needed to take advantage of the field position their massive forward pack is able to achieve.
Their halves pairing of Clifford and Asiata have a real crack, but their kicking game really lets the team down. In his 11 games this year, Clifford has only forced three drop outs. He also only has 3 try assists and 3 line break assists…so he just isn’t creating the chances needed by their key play maker.
The Cowboys are hard to contain up the middle, but playing at home, the Sharks will look to take advantage of some ref discretion and move off their line fast and cut off the space of Taumalolo and McLean.
Paul Green credits one young forward and encourages fans to get behind Beanie for Brain Cancer Round.
— NQ Cowboys (@nthqldcowboys) 24 July 2019
The class the Sharks have in their halves Townsend and Johnson should be too much here and I think the Sharks win by about 12 points.
Suggested Bet: Cronulla Sharks -4.5