Sharks v Broncos: Roberts back for Brisbane to face unchanged Sharks
It's not a top-of-the-table meeting but this sixth v eighth clash has the potential to be played with a finals-like intensity, with both teams no doubt aware of the need to start gathering momentum over the second half of the season.
The Sharks bounced back from a disappointing round 13 performance against Souths with last week's home win over the Tigers, boosting their record to 9-5 and staying right in the hunt for a top four finish. They still have some key players battling various niggling injuries and coach Shane Flanagan would be confident his side at full strength can match it with any team in the competition.
Brisbane slipped to 7-6 for the season with last week's road loss to titleholders Melbourne. A loss to the Sharks would leave them teetering on the edge of the top eight with a bunch of teams snapping at their heels. The Broncos expect Origin star James Roberts to play after he sat out last week's game.
Key match-up: Veteran Cronulla lock Paul Gallen isn't getting any younger but he still loves a challenge – and he'll have one on his hands against his former State of Origin rival Josh McGuire. Gallen gets bagged for putting the blinkers on at times and trying to do it all by himself. While the criticism might be justified, he got it right in the second half of last week's clash with the Tigers, charging into three defenders and carrying the lot of them over the line for a try that triggered a Sharks comeback.
For the Sharks to win: Coach Flanagan would've been fidgeting uncomfortably in his chair as the Tigers rolled to a 10-2 lead in the first half of last week's game. His team responded with a stirring second-half fightback, but they can't afford a sleepy start this week. The Sharks will need an 80-minute performance against a Broncos team desperate to cling to eighth spot on the ladder.
For the Broncos to win: Talented playmaker Anthony Milford had little impact off the bench for the Maroons in State of Origin I and didn't do anything too special a few nights later in Brisbane's 32-16 loss to Melbourne. The Broncos need the 'Milf' to get back to his best.
Sharks Stat Attack: Since their spine clicked after a slow start to the season the Sharks have won seven of their past eight games. They’re currently sitting in at seventh in the ladder but if can push for a top four spot if their current form continues.
Broncos Stat Attack: On Saturday night Broncos captain Darius Boyd will bring up his 150th NRL game. Back in 2006 Boyd was crowned RLPA Rookie of the Year and took home a premiership when the Broncos defeated the Storm 15-8 in the grand final.
And another thing: He's scored 17 tries in 28 games for Queensland but Darius Boyd will have all his focus on the Broncos this season after retiring from representative football this week having missed the cut for the Maroons in Origin I.
Match: Sharks vs Broncos
Round 15 -
Venue: Southern Cross Group Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
Cronulla Sharks v Brisbane Broncos, Saturday 7.35pm at Southern Cross Group Stadium
Sharks: 1 Valentine Holmes, 2 Sione Katoa, 3 Jesse Ramien, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Edrick Lee, 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Luke Lewis, 12 Wade Graham (c), 13 Paul Gallen (c)
Interchange: 14 Joseph Paulo, 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Jack Williams, 17 Jayson Bukuya
The Sharks have named the same 17 which stormed home to beat Wests Tigers last Sunday after trailing at half-time. After Scott Sorensen and Sosaia Feki were dropped from the squad 24 hours out from kick-off, Kurt Capewell and Avagalu Seumanufagai were omitted 60 minutes before game time.
Broncos: 1 Darius Boyd (c), 2 Corey Oates, 3 James Roberts, 4 Jordan Kahu, 5 Jamayne Isaako, 6 Anthony Milford, 7 Kodi Nikorima, 8 Matthew Lodge, 9 Andrew McCullough, 10 Sam Thaiday, 16 Tevita Pangai jnr, 12 Jaydn Su'A, 13 Josh McGuire
Interchange: 11 Alex Glenn, 14 Patrick Mago, 15 Joe Ofahengaue, 18 Sam Tagataese
In a late change, Tevita Pangai jnr will start in the second row, with Alex Glenn to come of the interchange bench. Kotoni Staggs and Tom Opacic were the two players left hour an hour before kick-off. Blues Origin centre James Roberts returns after missing the Storm game to rest his ongoing Achilles injury. The rest of the Broncos 17 is unchanged from the Melbourne loss. Troy Dargan and David Fifita were omitted 24 hours out from kick-off.
Head-to-head: Played 53; Broncos 33 wins, Sharks 20 wins
Matches at venue: Played 23; Sharks 12 wins, Broncos 11 wins
2017 results: Broncos won 26-18 at Southern Cross Group Stadium in round 1; Broncos won 32-10 at Suncorp Stadium in round 23
Points per game: Sharks 19.9; Broncos 19.1
Points conceded per game: Sharks 17.6; Broncos 22.8
Televised: Live on Fox League