The Derby - NRL Match Preview
Whether the Sharks and Dragons are languishing amongst the also-rans, or like this season riding high near the top of the competition table, the local derby always brings the intensity of a finals clash.
Regardless of whether teams are at full strength or battling an injury crisis, things like a team list also seems to have little bearing on the result.
Sharks Coach Shane Flanagan, himself a former Dragons in his playing days, is someone certainly aware of the uncertainty, interest and passion generated in Sharks v Dragons matches.
Australian centre Josh Dugan will be missing from the Dragons line up after busting a cheekbone playing for the Kangaroos, English international Gareth Widdop is sidelined with a leg injury, however with them or without them, Flanagan has no doubt the challenge of going to Kogarah and coming away with a win, will be immense.
“Whatever side they trot out, Dragons-Sharks it’s always a tough battle,” Flanagan said. “We don’t look too much into who wears the jersey, they’ll represent it really well and it’ll be a tough battle.”
Somewhat complicating the job Flanagan and his playing group are attempting to do tomorrow evening have been a couple of major distractions coming from issues away from the field.
Flanagan addressed some of those issues at a lengthy press conference today (CLICK HERE to view) but was confident he would have the minds of his players firmly focused on the big derby clash before the 6.00pm kick-off tomorrow.
“We’ve trained really good the last couple of day. We did have some distractions earlier in the week but the playing group has done an outstanding job in getting ready,” Flanagan said.
“The players are resilient, they’ll get on with the job. We’ve got great leadership here, we’ll get on with it and we need to win tomorrow,” he added.
While the good form of the Dragons will present a hurdle for Flanagan and the Sharks, cause for some concern has been the up and down form of the Cronulla side.
Brilliant one week, with impressive wins over the Storm, Raiders and Panthers prime examples, uninspiring on other occasions so far in 2017, Flanagan realises the task facing his side is in becoming more consistent on a weekly basis.
“We’ve had moments and I know it’s there, otherwise I’d be concerned. After the Tigers game I said the only thing consistent about our performances is our inconsistency. Now we’ve just got to find that consistency,” Flanagan said.
After naming a 21-man squad on Tuesday, Flanagan has trimmed his team down to 19, with Daniel Mortimer and Sam Tagataese retained on an extended bench.
There are no apparent injury concerns, meaning Flanagan will have some decisions to make as to his final 17 before the 6.00pm start time tomorrow.
Should they be able to notch a win it would be the first Sharks victory at Jubilee Oval since 2007, while the Cronulla side will also be hoping to reverse the result from earlier in the year when the St George Illawarra side scored a 16-10 win at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
Kick off to the main game is at 6.00pm, with the NYC match, also bringing together the teams sitting second and third on the competition table, gets underway at 3.45pm.
The Sharks 19-man NRL squad is listed below.
NRL Team List – Round 10
Sharks v Dragons
Friday, May 12
UOW Jubilee Oval
1- Valentine Holmes
2- Sosaia Feki
3- Jack Bird
4- Ricky Leutele
5- Gerard Beale
6- James Maloney
7- Chad Townsend
8- Andrew Fifita
9- Jayden Brailey
10- Matt Prior
11- Luke Lewis
12- Wade Graham
13- Paul Gallen
14- Joseph Paulo
15- Chris Heighington
16- Jeremy Latimore
17- Kurt Capewell
18- Sam Tagataese
19- Daniel Mortimer
Tale of the tape
Head to head
Played 39 games
Sharks 18 wins
St George Illawarra 20
At Jubilee Oval
Past eight matches
Sharks 3 wins
Dragons 5 wins
Sharks beat Dragons 40-4, Southern Cross Group Stadium, 2007
Dragons beat Sharks 38-0, WIN Stadium, 2010