With a squad depleted by injury, the NSW Cup Sharks recorded one of their better victories for 2014 when they scored a convincing win over the Newtown Jets last weekend.
Forced to rely on a number of players eligible for the NYC competition, the Sharks were too good for the Jets in registering a 36-16 win.
The win consolidated the Sharks position inside the top eight, with this weekend’s match against the fifth placed Mounties giving them an opportunity to climb further up the competition ladder.
Nathan Gardner returns for the Sharks after playing for the NSW Cup rep team prior to Origin on Wednesday, while the Melbourne Storm have again contributed five players to the Cronulla team.
The match is the second of a double header at Belmore on Saturday afternoon, with kickoff scheduled for 5.00pm.
NSWRL.com has provided its weekly match preview, with the Sharks again respecting their opinion, but certainly not agreeing with predicted outcome.
Summary: The match of the round on paper at least when the seventh placed Sharks tackle the fifth placed Mounties as the back end of a VB NSW Cup double header at Belmore.
Mounties are surging once again after a tough few months, and have posted back to back wins against the Tigers and Bulldogs.
The Mounties club has wonderful depth, and this has been on show in recent weeks with the likes of Matt Place, Uiti Baker and Mitch Cahalane all stepping up to the mark. Jeremy Hawkins bagged four tries last weekend against the Bulldogs, and although he hasn’t been named here, he may yet play after being denied a second tier exemption to play NRL on the weekend.
The Sharks continue to mix their form of late, but there is no doubting that they have what it takes to mix it with the best on their day. The halves combination of Holdsworth and Manumalealii looked good once again last weekend against the Jets, and if these two can stay together for the remaining rounds, they may yet give their premiership defence one almighty shake.
On The Back-up: There will be a number of players facing the prospect of backing up from Wednesday nights VB NSW Cup Representative fixture here, with Mounties the most affected, having four players facing that proposition. Jack Ahearn, Mitch Cornish, Mark Nicholls and Jake Foster have all been named here to face the Dogs, but only time will tell just how many of them will take their place.
Cornish did appear to pick up an injury during the clash, but just how serious it was will only be known in the coming days.
Prediction: Probably the toughest match of the round to tip. Mounties look like they have their mojo back. Mounties by 4. (tip made by NSWRL.com editorial staff)
Cronulla Sharks Vs Mounties
Belmore Sports Ground, Saturday, July 12
Referee: Adam Cassidy
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of 2GLF FM 89.3 (Link available via 893fm.com.au)