NRL Preview: Sharks out to darken Knights’ days
Six wins on the trot for Shane Flanagan’s men stands for little this Sunday, as the Sharks head to the Hunter Stadium to face a Knights outfit, who will be intent on bringing the run of successes to a grinding halt.
Flanagan spoke on Friday of the upcoming Knights challenge, urging his men to remain focussed on the task at hand, and to show the Newcastle side the respect they warrant – regardless of their recent showings.
Sitting at 16th on the NRL ladder, the Knights present a different challenge to the one the Broncos brought to Southern Cross Group Stadium in Round 9.
Flanagan insisted the Sharks will be out to compete on every play, while also looking to put into practice those lessons learned out of the win over the Broncos.
"From Round 1 we played well against the Cowboys, we played well right through up until the 74th minute where it was 14-all," Flanagan said.
"We competed really well (versus the Cowboys), and we've been pretty competitive most of the year. The Broncos was another test, and we played really well in the first half as you know ... We learned a lot out of that second half.
"Controlling teams, and controlling matches ... that's the challenge for us next time."
Knights Coach Nathan Brown meanwhile has readied his men for the tough task that awaits, and paid credit to the Sharks form inside the last six weeks.
“It's a big challenge and as it stands at the moment, I think we'd all agree Cronulla have got their roster to a stage where they are in a position where they would fancy themselves for a shot at the title,” Brown said earlier in the week.
"They have a fit squad at the moment and with the rule changes where we've lost the two interchange, I think that's played more into Cronulla's hands than a lot of other sides.
“They have a very mobile, very fit team and can play games where they only make four or five changes.
"They have lot of experienced players there and the younger players they do have in (Valentine) Holmes and (Jack) Bird, they are players everyone is expecting to go a lot further than club level.
"They are going to be a tough team to beat.”
The Key Match-Up: Chad Townsend v Trent Hodkinson
The Punters' Picks - Odds by CrownBet*:
Head-to-Head: Knights ($5.00) v Sharks ($1.18)
Line: $1.92 each of two, Knights (+14.0) v Sharks (-14.0)
Margin: Knights 1-12 ($6.50), Knights 13+ ($14), Sharks 1-12 ($3.35), Sharks 13+ ($1.72)
First Try Scorer: Valentine Holmes ($7), Ben Barba ($8), Akuila Uate ($13)
*Prices quoted as of 10:00 (AEST) Saturday, May 15. For the latest markets please visit CrownBet NRL HERE. Gamble responsibily.
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