In a scrappy affair the NSW Cup Sharks went down last week to a Bulldogs team struggling towards the bottom of the competition ladder, making this Saturday’s game an important one with an eye towards their finals.
The Sharks were their own worst enemies against the Bulldogs, with Coach Tony Herman certain to be stressing the importance of ball control ahead of this weeks clash with the Newtown Jets.
The Sharks will also be without Nathan Gardner, with the fullback a late call-up into the NSW Cup rep side which is scheduled to play the curtain-raiser prior to Origin 3. Gardner was amongst the Sharks best in the Bulldogs loss, scoring three tries in the match.
A replacement has yet to be named for Gardner, with Valentine Holmes from the NYC one of the options available to coach Herman.
The NSWRL has again provided a match preview, with the Sharks v Jets to get underway at 3.00pnm at Henson on Saturday afternoon.
Summary: The ninth placed Jets host the seventh placed Sharks in a clash that both sides will be viewing as a must win game.
The Jets stayed within touching distance of the eight last weekend with a professional 40-26 win over Wyong, while the Sharks were outplayed by the Bulldogs, going down 37-24.
Neither of these two sides have ever really gotten anything going so to speak this season, with consecutive wins tough to come by at times.
Given the compact nature of the bottom half of the eight, it would be likely that both of these sides would need to win at least half of their remaining games to feature in the finals.
In team news, Nathan Stapleton played his last game for the Sharks last weekend, and would have been in line to face his old club here, having signed with the Roosters mid-week, however his selection in the VB NSW Cup Representative side scuttled any chance of that happening.
The Jets will also not have the services of Willis Meehan, who was also named in the rep team, while Jets regulars, Kane Evans and Heath L’Estrange will play for the Roosters.
For the Sharks, Josh Portlock comes into the backline to replace Nathan Stapleton while Tim Robinson has also been selected in the VB NSW Cup Representative side and will be unavailable here.
Filling the hole: Not only have the Sharks lost a very capable outside back in Nathan Stapleton, but as a result, they will now be without their first choice goal kicker.
One would assume that Daniel Holdsworth would take over those duties given that he has a history, particularly in England, as being a serviceable shot at goal.
He has big shoes to fill, hopefully he has been working on it at training this week.
Prediction: Going with the Sharks, but with very little confidence. Sharks by 4.
Newtown Jets Vs Cronulla Sharks
Henson Park, Saturday, July 5
Referee: Matt Cecchin
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via www.steelesports.com.au)