MATCH PREVIEW | Sharks v Storm
One thing is for certain, the Sharks won’t be ambushed by a Storm outfit armed with a quality playing roster and coming into the game undefeated after three consecutive victories.
The Sharks will know exactly what to expect come Monday at Southern Cross Group Stadium, with Melbourne’s grinding yet efficient style predictable but equally difficult to beat.
In late team news, Sharks Skipper Paul Gallen & fellow forward David Fifita trained on Sunday morning at the side's Captain's run.
One man named to start in the Sharks back row, experienced forward Luke Lewis, is aware of the challenge awaiting his side but confident they can produce the goods tomorrow night.
“You don’t win three games in a row for no reason, you’ve got to work hard at it and they’re the team to beat at the moment,” Lewis said. “It’s always a tough game against Melbourne and I can’t remember the last time I beat them.
“We’ve got our hands full right across the park but I think we’ve got the side to combat that,” Lewis said.
While plenty of time would have been spent in front of a video screen dissecting the Melbourne patterns of play, the Sharks preparations have had a lot to do with what they can produce on Monday and what they can improve, rather than what the opposition will bring.
The form of the halves Chad Townsend and James Maloney, while still a work in progress in terms of their combination, has still been solid, Andrew Fifita continues to get his team on the front foot as he churns out the metres in the middle of the ruck and Jack Bird has been given a clean bill of health following the ugly tackle that knocked him senseless at Brookvale last Monday.
But most excitement probably surrounds the performances of Ben Barba over the first three rounds, with the enigmatic fullback threatening to return to the form of his Dally M season in 2012.
"Things are going really well at the moment, I just hope it can continue to go like that, I continue working with the boys around me and hopefully get some more wins now,” Barba said.
“The halves and myself and Michael (Ennis) we need to not complicate it too much.
“We’ve been focusing on what we do and not what Melbourne do and we’ll be trying to do it as best as possible,” Barba said.
One thing in the Sharks favour is despite the fact skipper Paul Gallen is still missing from the line-up as his recovery from a knee injury continues, the same 17 from the Manly match will again line up against the Storm.
Bird has shown no ill effects from his head knock last week and is set to take his place in the Sharks backline and other than the typical bumps and bruises resulting from a physical encounter with Manly, the Cronulla squad will report for duty with no changes.
However should they hope to claim the points on Monday night the Sharks will need to be more successful in putting to bed a second concerning ‘hoodoo’ in the space of seven days.
With the Manly loss seeing the distressing run of outs at Brookvale Oval rolling along, the Sharks will now be looking to beat a Storm outfit for the first time in four seasons and for just the second time since 2008.
It was 2012 when the Sharks last came away with a win over Melbourne, a rousing 12-10 victory at home, but since then the men in purple have dominated, claiming five consecutive wins.
And when looking deeper into the record books, only one Sharks triumph in 10 attempts makes for even more concern.
A Storm 17 without Billy Slater but with exciting youngster Cameron Munster at the back, against a Sharks outfit desperate to not lose touch with the leading teams, promises to be an enthralling battle.
Kick-off to the NRL clash is scheduled for 7.00pm, with the NYC match getting underway at 4.45pm.
Gates to Southern Cross Group Stadium open at 4.30pm.
As with all Sharks home games, integrated ticketing provides free train transport and shuttle service for fans pre-purchasing game day tickets, for 2016 Sharks Members and for corporate area pass holders.
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