From premiership dark horse to the NRL's coldest team - that's where the Sharks find themselves seven weeks out from the playoffs.

Cronulla were on track to break a four-game losing slump last week before falling asleep and allowing the Warriors to pinch a vital 19-18 win.

The Sharks have dropped to 11th on the premiership ladder and the irony is they've gone backwards since the return of their star players. Time is running out to get their title aspirations back on course.

The Cowboys gave the Rabbitohs all they could handle last week and would've felt like it was one that got away.

Match: Sharks v Cowboys

Round 19 -

Full Time
Sharks

Home Team

Sharks

Scored 16 points
Cowboys

Away Team

Cowboys

Scored 14 points

Venue: PointsBet Stadium, Sydney

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network
  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS

The Rundown

Team news

Sharks: A late switch with Matt Prior to start at prop and Braden Hamlin-Uele moving to the bench. Prior's big-game experience will help cover for the absence of the suspended Andrew Fifita. Josh Dugan comes in at fullback for Matt Moylan, while Josh Morris returns at centre. Billy Magoulias will make his debut off the bench. Kyle Flanagan and Scott Sorensen dropped out of the extended squad on Wednesday night. Jayson Bukuya and Sione Katoa were omitted an hour before kick-off.

Cowboys: No sign of Michael Morgan (concussion) in the 21-man squad to face Cronulla. The skipper hasn't played since Origin III and is being closely monitored. Coen Hess was named on the bench but has moved into the starting side an hour before game time with Javid Bowen dropping out. Corey Jensen comes onto the bench. Peter Hola was the last man omitted before kick-off while Reuben Cotter and Gideon Gela-Mosby had dropped off the reserves list 24 hours before kick-off.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Sharks is number 1 Josh Dugan
    Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott Drinkwater
  • Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sosaia Feki
    Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
  • Centre for Sharks is number 3 Bronson Xerri
    Centre for Cowboys is number 14 Coen Hess
  • Centre for Sharks is number 4 Josh Morris
    Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Tom Opacic
  • Winger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
    Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Murray Taulagi
  • Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Shaun Johnson
    Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 John Asiata
  • Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Chad Townsend
    Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Jake Clifford

Forwards

  • Prop for Sharks is number 16 Matt Prior
    Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Josh McGuire
  • Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Jayden Brailey
    Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Jake Granville
  • Prop for Sharks is number 10 Aaron Woods
    Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Gavin Cooper
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Kurt Capewell
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Shane Wright
  • Lock for Sharks is number 13 Paul Gallen
    Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo

Interchange

  • Interchange for Sharks is number 8 Braden Hamlin-Uele
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 Matthew Scott
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Blayke Brailey
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Scott Bolton
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 15 Jack Williams
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Francis Molo
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Billy Magoulias
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 20 Corey Jensen

Key match-up

Paul Gallen v Jason Taumalolo - the old bull versus the human wrecking ball. Gallen returned from injury last week and, as he closes in on his 38th birthday, is under pressure to fend off Father Time and show he is still a force to be reckoned with. He won't get any charity from Taumalolo.

For the Sharks to win

Matt Moylan has come under fire for what is amounting to a pretty ordinary season, especially by his standards. Moylan needs to quickly rediscover his A-game if the Sharks are going to turn their season around. Shaun Johnson had a great first half last week and has to be more consistent.

For the Cowboys to win

The probable absence of Andrew Fifita through suspension again will leave a hole in the Cronulla pack. The Cowboys should look to exploit the size and strength advantage they will have up front through the likes of Taumalolo, Matt Scott, Jordan McLean, Josh McGuire and Scott Bolton.

Brett Kimmorley says

Cronulla desperately need to start winning again. That needs to come off the back of playing tough and gritty. The forwards need to do all the work. There is a short turnaround for them coming back from Wellington. For the Cowboys, Jake Clifford will be challenged to stay in the game for the full 80 minutes. I’m interested to see how he goes on Thursday night. Sharks by 2

Stat Attack

Sharks centre Josh Dugan has committed the equal most errors in the NRL (29) with Jack Wighton, while hooker Jayden Brailey has the most ineffective tackles (34). If they aren't sharper in attack and defence Cronulla could be headed for a sixth straight loss.

And another thing ...

The Sharks and Cowboys shared the spoils in two meetings last year. The Cowboys prevailed 20-14 in the first clash before Cronulla made amends with a 28-16 home win in round 23. Of the eight tries that were scored by both teams collectively, six were scored by forwards - Luke Lewis, Andrew Fifita, Jason Bukuya, Coen hess, Jordan McLean and Gavin Cooper.