The Cronulla Sharks will be playing for the chance to secure the minor premiership and a home semi-final when they take on the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park tomorrow night.
Finals have seemingly come early for Shane Flanagan’s men with the tantalising top 2 clash setting the tone for the remaining weeks in the 2016 NRL Season.
With this, Shane Flanagan today stressed the importance of a strong performance against the Storm tomorrow night.
“I think it’s going to be a big game,” said Flanagan.
“It’s going to be a pretty good environment down there with the stadium pretty close to packed, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Despite having defeated the Storm in Round 4 in 2016, Flanagan admits that the men from Melbourne will pose an ominous threat tomorrow.
“They’re a quality side and well drilled and well coached and I think if you just go down there and wait and see what happens with Melbourne you’ll be standing behind your goalposts.
“You need to go out there and put them under pressure. Put their Smiths and Cronks under pressure and we did that last time we played them and got into their forward leaders but it’s easier said than done.”
Despite not being victorious in the Victorian capital since 2008, Shane Flanagan’s men are unperturbed heading into the contest, with both forward packs set to lay the foundations for their classy back lines.
Flanagan said his side will look to pressure their stars however sounded a warning to his side to not underestimate the quality of the Melbourne side.
“I think we’d try that (pressure) on a number of occasions however Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk aren’t some of the best players in the world for no reason.
“They handle those type of situations and they thrive and it challenges them so we need to be really good on them and execute well around them rather than shoot out of the line and pressuring them; they’re too smart for that.”
Player in focus: Paul Gallen
The skipper’s return to the fold in last week’s match against the Roosters was something inspirational.
After returning from a calf strain, Gallen ran for 213m, racked up 26 tackles in a spaces, scored a try all in the space of 61 minutes.
Facing the prospect of a big Melbourne pack containing the likes of Jesse Bromwich, Kevin Proctor and Jordan McLean, Gallen will be ready to take it on and will be firing his fellow forwards to bring their “A-game” to the contest.
Head-to-Head: Played 30, Storm 20, Sharks 10
At AAMI Park: Played 6, Storm 6, Sharks 0
Last 5 Meetings:
Round 4, 2016: Sharks 14 def. Storm 6 @ Southern Cross Group Stadium
Round 23, 2015: Storm 30 def. 2 @ Remondis Stadium
Round 3, 2015: Storm 36 def. Sharks 18 @ AAMI Park
Round 23, 2014: Storm 48 def. Sharks 6 @ AAMI Park
Round 13, 2013: Storm 38 def. Sharks 6 @ AAMI Park
HTH: Storm ($1.45) v Sharks ($2.85)
Line: Storm -6.0 ($1.92) v Sharks +6.0 ($1.92)
First Try Scorer: Suliasi Vunivalu ($7.50), Marika Koroibete ($8.50), Valentine Holmes ($9.00), Will Chambers ($12.00), Ben Barba ($13.00).
*Prices quited at 17:00pm Friday, September 2. For the latest odds and more markets on the match, click here.