Key Match-up: Graham, Cartwright set for showdown
The Sharks’ Wade Graham and the Panthers’ Bryce Cartwright this weekend go head-to-head in a battle of wide-running, hard-hitting, skilful back-rowers.
Cut from the same cloth, Graham and Cartwright will square off on their side’s left and right edges respectively – and their work done both in, and out of possession, will set the tone for their team’s successes on Sunday afternoon.
Graham – a one-time Panthers junior who came in to Grade as talented half – has continued his recent good form of late, in getting through a mountain of work inside the seven matches in 2016.
Graham has been asked to take on added defensive responsibilities in partnering James Maloney on the Sharks left edge, and the duo have shown sides of rapid improvement in recent weeks with their time in possession also.
Although having missed 15 tackles this season (4th most at Sharks), Graham leads the Club in 1-on-1 tackles with 23.
And with 3 linebreak assists next to his name already this season, watch for Graham’s combination with Ben Barba to take that tally to new heights as the season continues to unfold.
Fast fact: Wade Graham has lined up against the Panthers in 6 matches since joining the Sharks in 2011, for 5 wins, tasting defeat only in the last time the sides met.
Now into his third season in the NRL, Bryce Cartwright has proved one of the game’s most damaging back-rowers inside the competition’s opening 8 weeks.
Cartwright has scored 3 tries (2nd best at Panthers), and has offloaded on 14 occasions (a club best), in showing his attacking prowess and skill, despite being a bigger body.
With 2 linebreak assists – and a pair of linebreaks – to boast this season, Cartwright will be taking the challenge to Graham and Maloney come Sunday afternoon.
Watch for Cartwright’s offload to ask plenty of questions of the Sharks second-effort defence again.
The 21-year-old has caught the eye of those in Origin circles, and a good showing against another hopeful in Graham could go a long way in earning a maiden Blues jersey.
Fast fact: Cartwright has played the Sharks twice, for 1 win and a loss.