Sharks v Raiders: Blake Austin into halfback for injured Sezer
The Sharks are coming off an impressive road victory over Penrith and coach Shane Flanagan will be challenging his side to back it up with an even stronger all-round performance against a desperate Raiders team.
Cronulla don't do one single thing brilliantly but do lots of little important things very well and more often than not make it very hard for opponents, simply because they usually aren't going to beat themselves.
Wade Graham adds a certain indefinable dimension to the Sharks and it wasn't surprising that his return from injury last week coincided with a convincing win over a team that had thumped the Warriors the previous week.
Canberra kept their faint finals hopes alive with last week's defeat of the Cowboys and are chasing a third straight win. They will also be out to avenge a 24-16 round 10 home loss to the Sharks.
Key match-up: He doesn't get the same accolades as his more illustrious colleagues in the Cronulla pack but Jayden Brailey understands he has an important role to fill if the Sharks are going to push for a premiership. Brailey has a difficult challenge on his hands to out-play Josh Hodgson – one of the best hookers in the business.
For the Sharks to win: Sharks fans loved seeing Matt Moylan lead the way last week against Penrith. But that was against his former team and judging by his animated performance Moylan's motivation to win was off the charts. The Sharks will be a force for the rest of the regular season and throughout September if Moylan can have a similar impact every week.
For the Raiders to win: Ricky Stuart played his cards right a fortnight ago with the timely injection of Blake Austin into the game and the Raiders stole victory with three tries in the final six minutes. Austin wasn't as prominent in last week's win over the Cowboys but had another solid game off the bench. With Aidan Sezer out injured, Austin finds himself back in the starting side and his influence will be critical to the Raiders' chances. If Austin can temper his game and control the tempo then Ricky's men could pull off an upset.
Sharks Stat Attack: Valentine Holmes has been in red hot form for Cronulla and Queensland, scoring a sensational 14 tries in his past 12 games. Centre Jesse Ramien meanwhile has scored in each of his last six appearances.
Raiders Stat Attack: Cronulla has been a happy hunting ground for the Raiders of late, with Canberra winning in their past four visits to Southern Cross Group Stadium. It's been five years since they have been defeated twice in a regular season by the Sharks.
And another thing: The Raiders are two wins outside the top eight with seven games remaining. If they do somehow make it to the finals, they will have certainly earned it. After facing the Sharks, Canberra finish the regular season with games against Melbourne (away), Penrith (away), the Tigers (home), Roosters (home), Rabbitohs (home) and Warriors (away).
Fullback for Sharks is number 1 Valentine HolmesFullback for Raiders is number 1 Brad Abbey
Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione KatoaWinger for Raiders is number 2 Nick Cotric
Centre for Sharks is number 3 Jesse RamienCentre for Raiders is number 3 Michael Oldfield
Centre for Sharks is number 4 Ricky LeuteleCentre for Raiders is number 4 Joseph Leilua
Winger for Sharks is number 5 Edrick LeeWinger for Raiders is number 5 Jordan Rapana
Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Matt MoylanFive-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Sam Williams
Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Chad TownsendHalfback for Raiders is number 14 Blake Austin
Prop for Sharks is number 8 Andrew FifitaProp for Raiders is number 8 Dunamis Lui
Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Jayden BraileyHooker for Raiders is number 9 Josh Hodgson
Prop for Sharks is number 10 Matt PriorProp for Raiders is number 10 Junior Paulo
2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Scott Sorensen2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Iosia Soliola
2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Wade Graham2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
Lock for Sharks is number 13 Paul GallenLock for Raiders is number 13 Josh Papalii
Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Joseph PauloInterchange for Raiders is number 15 Luke Bateman
Interchange for Sharks is number 15 James SegeyaroInterchange for Raiders is number 16 Siliva Havili
Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Aaron WoodsInterchange for Raiders is number 17 Liam Knight
Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Jayson BukuyaInterchange for Raiders is number 19 Jack Murchie
Sharks: The Sharks will line up 1-17. Jesse Ramien returns at centre in place of Kurt Capewell in Cronulla's only change. Capewell is out until round 24 with a finger injury. Sosaia Feki and Ava Seumanufagai were dropped an hour prior to kick-off.
Raiders: Blake Austin returns to the starting side at halfback replacing Aidan Sezer (hamstring). Jack Murchie comes onto the bench to make his NRL debut. Brad Abbey returns from concussion at fullback with Nick Cotric moving to the wing and Michael Oldfield shifting to centre in place of Jarrod Croker (knee, season). Craig Garvey and Royce Hunt were cut from the reserves an hour out from kick-off.
Head-to-head: Played 70; Sharks 38 wins, Raiders 32 wins
Previous result: Sharks won 24-16 at GIO Stadium in round 10
Points per game: Sharks 19.8; Raiders 24.9
Points conceded per game: Sharks 17.3; Raiders 21.3
Televised: Live on Fox League
Petero Civoniceva's prediction: The Raiders had a great win last week and they are a very dangerous opponent in the run home. They have plenty of points in them but Jarrod Croker is a big loss. The Sharks are a very professional outfit and they know how to defend their line in big games. This should be one of the most entertaining games of the weekend but the Sharks will be too good at home.
Tip: Sharks by 2
Match: Sharks vs Raiders
Round 19 -
Venue: Southern Cross Group Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
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