7 reasons why Townsend & Pearce hold the key
1. Finding the line
Both Townsend and Pearce have a happy knack of crossing for four pointers, and such stems from the pair’s ability to spot gaps and tired defenders in the opposition line.
Townsend and Pearce both have a quick turn of foot, and if presented with half a chance on Monday night, rest assured they will be fast to take it in search of points. Townsend has crossed for 5 tries already this year – his most successful try-scoring season on record – while Pearce has scored just one from his five games played.
2. Laying on the points
Just as the halves can go in for tries of their own, Townsend and Pearce have shown this season – and throughout their careers – their ability to send others in to score.
Townsend (11 try assists, 16 games), and Pearce (6 try assists, 5 games) will again be out to turn provider on Monday night – with each capable of sending their outside men in to score.
3. Feeding the outside backs
Townsend ranks second at the Sharks for Linebreak assists (9), and so too is Pearce at the Roosters with 6.
The outside backs have proved the beneficiary for Townsend’s work, with Sosaia Feki and Valentine Holmes enjoying the lead-up play of their halves, and the try scoring opportunites to stem therefrom.
4. Knowing their role
Pearce will be asked to play the role of the dominant half tomorrow, as named to partner Ryan Matterson who will wear the ‘6’ on his back.
Townsend meanwhile has enjoyed the second block of the season playing second-fiddle to his halves partner in James Maloney, who returns from Origin duties to face his old side intent on walking away a winner.
5. Asking questions of the defence
Both noted runners of the ball, expect Townsend and Pearce to take on the line at any given chance come Monday night.
In Townsend’s time spent playing the five-eighth role at Warriors, a confident running game not before seen in his time as a Shark has been evident throughout all of 2016.
6. Kicking long, and chasing hard
Not only will the pair be asked to do the bulk of the general play kicking on Monday night, watch as the duo will likely lead their line in the chase to the ball to pressure the returning runner.
As seen in Penrith last Sunday afternoon, Townsend’s kick-pressure paved the way for the Sharks to cross for the easiest of tries.
And while the side can’t – and won’t – expect to cross in the same fashion against the Roosters, onlookers can look forward to the poise and placement of Townsend and Pearce’s kicking games in Round 19.
7. Aiming up in defence
While halves aren’t often judged on their defence, the time of Townsend spent without the ball this season has impressed every bit as much as that when in attack.
The half has made 37 1-on-1 tackles this season – second only to Jack Bird – with plenty of those to deny the opposition points.
Pearce meanwhile has been long regarded as one of the game’s leading three-in defenders, and he too can expect plenty of traffic to come his way as the Sharks hunt more points on Monday night.