Sydney Roosters v Cronulla Sharks
Easter Sunday football pits the high-flying Sydney Roosters against a cellar-dwelling Cronulla Sharks desperate to turn things around.
The Sharks will be hoping that Sunday's arrival of the Easter bunny will trumpet a change in their 2015 NRL fortunes. Last start they had victory snatched from them by a late-game interception having done well to grind out a four-point advantage against the Titans.
A shattered Shane Flanagan signalled changes after that game and he has delivered. Valentine Holmes is swapped with Michael Gordon from the wing to fullback to allow the impressive speedster more attacking freedom. Meanwhile Jack Bird is brought into the five-eighth position after a brilliant debut game last week.
That leaves Wade Graham to shift to the back-row, Matt Prior to go to prop and Andrew Fifita to drop back to the bench.
For the Roosters the big news is a serious foot injury to Blake Ferguson in the Roosters' last-start demolition of the Raiders.
He will miss around four months of football, providing Nene Macdonald an opportunity to assert himself in first grade on the wing.
Watch Out Roosters: The Sharks are a team with a point to prove and a coach that is willing to wield the axe if results don't start to turn quickly. With names like Gallen, Heighington and Ennis in their ranks, this side is far too proud to not pose a serious challenge to a Roosters team that could be forgiven for taking their foot off the pedal on Sunday. The Roosters' walkthrough against the Raiders last week may leave them a little bit underdone against a Sharks team that will fight over a bone. None will embody their wholehearted attitude more than boom youngster Jack Bird.
Watch Out Sharks: Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney are in unbelievable form and will be riding a wave of confidence after setting up a raft of clinical tries in their last game. Having stamped themselves as a genuine option for the NSW Origin halves pairing they will be looking to further assert themselves against a new-look Sharks backline.
Key Match-Up: Paul Gallen v Dylan Napa. Don't underestimate the importance of winning the collision in the middle of the field. These two are masters of it and their success in dominating the tackle will go a long way to determining this result. Napa will come into this contest around the 20-minute mark and will be looking to make his impact immediately with a big hit as he has done on so many occasions so far this season. Meanwhile Gallen will be producing quality output for 80 minutes of the match. When they eventually meet in the middle the result will be fascinating and may well swing the match.
The History: Roosters v Sharks: Played 87; Roosters 56, Sharks 29, Drawn 2. The Roosters have won 20 of the last 32 encounters between these two. However in their last meeting it was the Sharks who pulled off an epic 30-28 come-from-behind victory after being 24-6 down at half-time in round 17 last year.
What Are The Odds: Roosters ($1.20) v Sharks ($4.20) Punters have identified this match as one to put into your multis – 90 per cent of the investments are with the Roosters despite their short price. Roosters 13+ has been hammered into odds on and Sportsbet suggests you might want to take the overs in number of points scored in the game. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au
Match Officials: Referee – Gavin Badger. Assistant Referee – Chris Sutton. Touch Judges – Rick MacFarlane & David Ryan. Video Referees: Steve Clark & Luke Patten.
Televised: Channel Nine - Live from 4pm (AEDT).
The Way We See It: The Sharks will come out firing in this one as they look to recover their battered pride. However, the Roosters are clearly the better side; their backline is leaps and bounds above their opponents skill wise and will be the difference on the day. And it's a decent difference. Roosters by 10.