Key Match-up: Sezer & Townsend square off
In a match where control will be key, we look at the match-up of Chad Townsend and Aidan Sezer – in a the battle of the number sevens
The Sharks head into today's round seven clash with the Raiders having scored three consecutive victories, and it is no coincidence that the form of halfback Chad Townsend has been that of a winner.
Returning to the Sharks fold after two years in Auckland, Townsend has brought back with him a mature attitude, and a style of play not before seen in his time in Sharks colours.
Known more so as an organiser than as a runner, Townsend has bucked the trend to prove one of the most lethal halves in 2016, thus far.
Townsend has crossed the line to score on three occasions this season, having played a role in four other tries that the side has scored.
But not to detract from his organisational play, Townsend has guided the side in the right direction, since setting foot back into the Cronulla halves.
Having formed a damaging combination with Luke Lewis, Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes on his outside, watch for Townsend and co to ask plenty of questions of the Raiders left-edge defence.
In his time without the ball, Townsend will have to put up with the challenge of Josh Papalii, who again has proved a handful for defences in 2016.
Across the park, in-coming Raiders halfback Aidan Sezer has starred to date – albeit having not played the full season thus far due to injury.
The ex-Gold Coast Titan crossed for a double in round one, before a fractured cheekbone saw him out of action for a month.
Sezer will take on an added role and responsibility in Blake Austin's absence this afternoon, and he will be hopeful of guiding his side to what would be their second win at home this season.
And although not the first choice goal kicker for the hosts, should anything happen to skipper Jarrod Croker, Sezer would prove a handy foil with the boot.
In a match where control and possession of the ball will be key, the short kicking games of both Townsend and Sezer must rise to the task.
The crafty number sevens will no doubt play a huge hand in seeing their respective sides to a win, and both will duly feature in the man of the match calculations come full time.