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Roosters fullback James Tedesco.

Minor premiers the Roosters have met 2016 champions Cronulla just once this season and on that occasion overcame a huge weight of numbers in the Sharks' favour to emerge victorious.

There are limited conclusions that can be drawn from a round-five Telstra Premiership clash when predicting the result of a finals meeting; both teams have evolved significantly and even the personnel has changed somewhat.

Cronulla have returned Matt Moylan to the halves with Valentine Holmes – badly out of form in the opening month of this year – now arguably the form player across the entire competition at fullback.

The Roosters have also since learned how to play well together - in round five Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco still seemed like virtual strangers but now they are humming like the Origin stars they are.

Still, the round five numbers make for fascinating reading and could yet provide a window into aspects of how this first versus fourth clash could evolve.

Sharks dominate everywhere but scoreboard

In their one meeting, Cronulla dominated possession on their home patch with 56% of the ball, yet Roosters still outscored the Sharks by five tries to two.

This possession stat on its own is a little misleading; the Roosters held 55% of the first-half ball and Cronulla had 66% of second-half footy. This was blown out by a period of nine consecutive sets between the 60th and 72nd minutes in which they netted just a solitary try as the Tricolours repeatedly turned the Sharks away from their try-line while soaking up a mountain of pressure.

Despite scoring five tries the Roosters made just a single line break. The Sharks made four – all in the first half – but just one of those led to a try as Tedesco performed some quality clean-up work at the back.

The Sharks had easily the better of the yardage game, making more total metres with a per-set advantage of more than four metres, and made more than twice as many offloads. Andrew Fifita (seven) and Paul Gallen (four) combined for more offloads than the whole Roosters 17 (eight).

None of that helped them break down the Roosters' defence on the night.

Roosters find a way as Sharks struggle under high ball

One telling stat that the Sharks did not have the better of was the kick defusal rate, which they trailed 62% to 43%.

Of seven attacking Roosters kicks the Sharks successfully negotiated just three. Of the four failures, two led directly to Ryan Matterson tries (the other two led to a line drop-out and a Roosters scrum on the Sharks' line).

The Roosters scored two further tries from kicks – these are not deemed as failed defusals by Stats because in both cases no Sharks player was close enough to make a play at the ball. One was a Luke Keary grubber for Joey Manu and the other, in the final seconds of the match, a Keary chip out to the left to an unmarked Reece Robinson.

Match Highlights: Sharks v Roosters - Round 5; 2018

In total four of their five tries came from kicks; Sosaia Feki twice failed to manage a Cronk bomb to the Sharks' left flank with the taller Blake Ferguson getting the jump and Matterson cleaning up the scraps. The other try came about when Keary put on a slick right-side shift for Tedesco to dummy and score.

By contrast the Roosters had to negotiate a massive 17 attacking kicks and were successful with 11 of those attempts. The other six created just one Sharks try (to Holmes from a Chad Townsend grubber), with two Cronulla scrums and two Cronulla penalties while the last finished with a breakaway run to Robinson and eventually Robinson's final-minute try.

No fear of Allianz for Sharks

As minor premiers the Roosters have earned the right for a home-ground advantage but Shane Flanagan's men will have little concern about visiting what has been a fairly happy hunting ground for them.

Prior to losing their last two meetings with the Roosters they had six straight wins against the Tricolours and prior to last year's finals loss to the Cowboys had five straight wins at Allianz.

They have seven wins from their past 10 trips to Allianz overall, for three wins and a loss against the Roosters plus two wins and two losses against the Cowboys (1-1), Rabbitohs (one win) and Sea Eagles (a loss in 2013).

The Roosters have unsurprisingly enjoyed their own home patch of late; prior to a poor last-start 22-8 loss to the Broncos they had five straight wins at the venue.

Sharks hit form in time for Roosters final

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