KEY MATCH-UPS | Sharks v Tigers
With a vital two competition points up for grab for the Sharks, the Tigers will head to Remondis Stadium looking to play the ‘spoiler’ role as the hosts continue their ‘Surge to September’.
Here are the Key Match-ups that stand to swing the momentum – and the result – in favour of the respective teams.
THE WINGERS | Sosaia Feki v Kevin Naiqama
Sharks left-edge winger Sosaia Feki last week had to contest with the tall and rangy Matt Duffie, and his assessment this week becomes no easier as he meets the Tigers’ flyer, Kevin Naiqama.
In his four career matches against the Tigers, Feki has scored two tries – both coming in the side’s 2013 victory over Wests at the SFS.
Naiqama meanwhile has scored 8 tries from his 21 appearances this season, and has crossed for two tries in as many career appearances against the Sharks.
With Ben Barba to miss the Tigers match through injury, Feki looks likely to return to playing the full eighty minutes, and he’ll be set to feature prominently in both attack and defence.
THE FIVE-EIGHTHS | Jack Bird v Mitchell Moses
Jack Bird squares off with fellow NRL young gun Mitchell Moses in a battle of the number sixes.
Despite not being able to show his full potential in the side’s loss to Melbourne last Monday, Bird remains a key figure in the Sharks’ attack – having provided 11 linebreak assists (best at the Club) and 7 tries from his 18 appearances in the top grade.
Moses meanwhile leads the Tigers for linebreak assists (13), and 1-on-1 tackles (59) in showing that he is capable of holding his own both with the ball, and without.
While Bird is yet to meet the Tigers at NRL level, Moses is yet to taste defeat against the Cronulla side, and played an instrumental role in that win – scoring a try and playing a hand in two others.
Look for Bird and Moses to feature heavily their side’s best efforts come Saturday, and whoever gets it over their opposite number could very well turn the match in favour of their respective team.
THE LOCKS | Paul Gallen v Martin Taupau
In a match-up of two very contrasting styles, the grit and determination of Sharks skipper Paul Gallen is set to be tested by the explosive, hard-hitting, Marty Taupou.
Gallen leads the Sharks side in average tackles (32), offloads (28) and average run metres (204), and despite celebrating his 34th birthday last Friday, his on-field performances are showing no signs of ageing, now well into his 15th season in the NRL.
25-year-old Taupau meanwhile leads his side for offloads (22), and is second only to teammate James Tedesco for tackle busts (70).
The former Bulldog is yet to taste defeat against the Sharks, (3 career matches, 3 wins), but rest assured Paul Gallen and his chargers will be out to change that record come Saturday’s Round 24 match.