The NSW Cup Sharks with a win over Mounties can cement a finals berth however anything less and they throw themselves upon the mercy of other teams and other results.
Sitting seventh, a win should see the Sharks move on to finals football, however the sixth placed Mounties are sure to provide a stern test of their credentials in the match set down for Mt Pritchard Complex on Saturday afternoon.
With a team featuring nine players from their under-20’s NYC squad, the Sharks will be high on enthusiasm but low on experience for the Mounties clash, up against a team which includes former Kangaroos and NSW Origin five eighth Terry Campese.
The Sharks will also be strengthened by the inclusion of five Melbourne Storm contracted players, with the combination of youth and experience sure to provide an interesting mix come Saturday afternoon.
The match will be played at Mt Pritchard Sports Ground (moved from the original venue of Aubrey Keech reserve).
Below the NSWRL has again produced it weekly NSW Cup match preview, with the predicted result also supplied by NSWRL.com, while Sharks.com.au offers up the equation to the Sharks finals chances.
Another big match in terms of the top eight and finalising how it is all going to pan out.
The Jets and Warriors fans will certainly be cheering for a Mounties win while the Sharks know that they are basically playing for their finals lives.
If the Sharks were to lose here, they would then need both the Jets and Warriors to lose to remain in the eight by rounds end, and with the Warriors heavily favoured to account for the Bears on Sunday, this would seem an unlikely scenario. Mounties can’t fall out of the eight regardless of the result, in fact they can’t finish any worse than their current position of sixth, but they could still finish fourth depending on other results.
The Sharks accounted for Mounties 22-20 back in round 18 after Mounties had lead 14-6 at half time. Obviously a lot has happened to both of these clubs since then, with the Sharks particularly affected by recent suspension and injury dramas.
A young and somewhat inexperienced Cronulla side came back from 10-4 down against the Bears last weekend to win 32-10 while Mounties were their own worst enemy against the Panthers in a match they may well have won had they held on to some ball.
Mounties will have Terry Campese at six here again, and he may also play for them during week one of the finals series, as their NRL affiliate, the Raiders, will still be in action.
The Sharks side resembles nothing like the teams that were taking to the park earlier in the year, but with players like Penani Manumalealii and Ben Hampton steering them around the park, they will still be dangerous.
Over to you Sam:
In terms of the top try scorer title, the status quo remained last weekend with not too much movement at the top. Bureta Faraimo remains on top with 18, and is currently on the sidelines with a knee injury, while Sami (17) couldn’t get over the line against the Panthers in a day that wasn’t exactly an outside backs dream. Just behind Sami on 16 tries is Josh Mantellato while Nathan Ross and Eto Nabuli would need a bag of tries as they enter the final round on 15 tries.
So short of an outrageous performance from one of the guys behind him, Sami probably just needs a sneaky double against the Sharks to claim this year’s regular season title. Over to you Sami.
Prediction: Look for Mounties to bounce back at home. Mounties by 4.
Mounties Vs Cronulla Sharks
Mt Pritchard Sports Ground, Saturday, August 30
Referee: Chris Treneman
Sharks – 7th – 28 points – differential +46
Play – Mounties (6th)
A win for the Sharks will see them finish seventh. With a loss and losses to the Roos, Warriors and Jets, they would remain seventh. All three however can leapfrog the Sharks with a win.
Wyong Roos – 8th – 28 points – diff -60
Play – Wests Tigers (4th)
A win for the Roos would confirm a finals berth. Should they Sharks lose the they win, they would finish seventh, however a win in combination with a Sharks win would see them finish eighth. A loss could see them overtaken by both or either of the Warriors and Jets.
Warriors – 9th – 27 points – diff +3
Play – Bears (13th)
They are depending on other results to make the top eight, with the Warriors needing either the Sharks of Roos to be beaten for them to qualify. Should that scenario eventuate, they would most likely finish ahead of the Jets regardless due to a superior for and against.
Jets – 10th – 27 points – diff -49
Play – Knights (3rd)
Again depending on other results, the equation is simple for the Jets who need two of the three teams ahead of them to be beaten for them to make the playoffs. They also need a win over the Knights.
Also – The Illawarra Cuttters and Mounties go into the final round on 30 competition points and in fifth and sixth place respectively. The Cutters have a bye and will retain at least fifth place on a final points tally of 32 and could finish as high as third depending on other results. As for Mounties, with a vastly superior for and against differential, neither the Sharks nor Wyong could feasibly overtake them with wins this weekend.