Sharks vs Warriors
Saturday 16th June, 5:30pm
Welcome back Michael, you’ve been sorely missed. Luck returns for his last half season of NRL football and he’s going to take on the impossible - patching up our woeful defence. He’s not the answer, but he’ll help.
Recent form: In reality, we should have beaten the Pamfers by more, and the scoreline flattered us. There were some positives, namely Ben Matulino and Russell Packer. Ben ran for an astonishing 225m in 22 runs to absolutely dominate a limp Panther pack. Yet again some soft, soft defence saw us concede easy points. Not sure what was going on with our attack at times? Johnson produced a brilliant kicking game, though again looked a little lost with ball in hand, especially once he had to re-think his initial option. Our 2nd half was an improvement, but that Pamfer team was diabolical.
The Sharks have been impressive this season, being the only team to beat a full strength Storm outfit. They stumbled a little recently with losses either side of the bye, but ground out a tough win over the Titans last weekend without their 2 best players. Most pundits are backing them to be around come September (including myself).
Players to watch: We harp on about it but this will be a battle of the big men. The Sharks like to play hard and straight up the middle as we do. Jeremy Smith impressed me against the Titanos, and they’ve put together an impressive supporting cast in the likes of Gibbs, Bukuya and Fifita. This pack is a whole different story to what the hapless Pamfers produced, even without Gallen.
Best and Pomeroy have benefited from the presence of an actual play-maker in Todd Carney. These two are the definition of journeymen, but they know their roles and they’re performing well - look to them to run hard, good lines on attack.
Feleti Mateo looked to be getting somewhere near decent form on Monday night. For the most part he put the offload away, and used his size, speed and footwork to poke his nose through with every carry, a deft grubber to set up Kevin at the end also.
Why we ignored the Kondom for so much of the 2nd half was beyond me. The Pamfer backs struggled to contain him, and I thought giving him the ball 10m could have been at least worth a go. Still, some very strong carries combined with one or two moments of questionable defence. He’s a man that definitely gets the opposition pissing their jocks, I’d like to see us feed him close to the line more (it worked with Manu for years).
I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief after seeing Kevin survive a full 80 mins. The difference with him at the back is massive, and he’ll only improve as he gets more game time. I’m not sold on the decision to opt for backrowers to cover dummy half for 80 mins this week. Yes Lewis was better against the Pamfers, but he’s not a dummy half. He has very limited options at his disposal, nor is his distribution anything to write home about. I would have liked to have seen Godinet on the bench at least - how Bluey handles this interchange bench will be interesting (and likely frustrating).
My prediction: Gallen is unlikely to lineup after picking up an injury on Wednesday night, but I’ll assume Carney will play as named. If so, I think we’re in for a tough one. This will be a short turnaround from Monday, and Saturday night games in Sydney don’t tend to get the best out of us. The Sharks have been impressive this year, and have only lost one at home. Sharks by a few. 26 – 18.