NRL PREVIEW | Sharks v Dragons
A large crowd is expected at Kogarah’s Jubilee Oval for the first Sharks v Dragons local derby clash of the 2015 season.
With both teams freshened up after the bye and coming off last start victories, the match is set to be keenly contested while providing an insight into the finals aspirations of both teams despite the season having not yet reached the half way mark.
At his pre-game press conference, held yesterday at Sharkies Leagues Club, coach Shane Flanagan was quick to highlight the local rivalry and the excitement these match ups create for both players and fans alike.
“It’s a great rivalry and it doesn’t seem to matter where the two teams are on the table, doesn’t matter where its played, its always a tough game and I don’t expect anything different tomorrow at Kogarah,” Flanagan said.
“I know all our boys are excited about it, if the weather holds out it will be a big crowd and we’re really looking forward to it.”
The Sharks come into the game with the 17 selected players fit and ready to go, however there is a very significant question mark surrounding the status of skipper Paul Gallen.
Sidelined for an extended period of time with a hip injury, Gallen has trained with the team this week and is inching ever closer to a comeback. However that being said, Flanagan wasn’t prepared to give anything away as to whether or not that return to the field would be tomorrow.
“We’ll just have to wait until 3 o’clock on Sunday to find out,” Flanagan said.
The potential return of Gallen would be a huge boost against a Dragons team currently flying high in equal first position on the NRL ladder.
The Dragons have been outstanding defensively so far in 2015, conceding just 120 points in nine games, although on flip side, their points-for tally of 154 has them ranked 15th of the 16th teams.
The match also represents the first game against his former club for young gun Jack Bird, with the Illawarra junior training with a spring in his step this morning ahead of the big game tomorrow.
The Cronulla side will also have Andrew Fifita on deck, the NSW Origin prop fit and raring to go after receiving just 27 minutes in Wednesday night’s big game.
The Sharks haven’t visited the joint-venture’s Kogarah home since 2011, where they were beaten 38-8 by the Dragons and in seven meetings at Jubilee from when St George and Illawarra came together, the ledger stands at five Dragons wins against two for the Cronulla club.
Overall the two clubs have met 34 times, for 16 Sharks wins, 17 to the Dragons, with one draw.
In 2014 the Dragons came out on top in both encounters, scoring a comprehensive 30-0 victory in Wollongong and a narrow 14-12 triumph at Remondis Stadium.
The match is scheduled for a 4.00pm kickoff at Jubilee Oval at Kogarah, with the NYC game getting underway at 1.45pm.