NRL Preview - Sharks v Bulldogs
Records show 2011 was the last time the Sharks hosted the Bulldogs at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
Before that it was way back in 2007, records that might just explain the interest brewing ahead of the Sharks v Bulldogs clash tomorrow night.
Despite both teams being somewhat down on troops, with seven players in total from the two squads away on Origin duty, a big crowd is expected and the two competition points count the same as the match shapes as an important one for both clubs.
Sharks Coach Shane Flanagan is under no illusions to the difficulty of the task at hand and knows what type of Bulldogs team to expect come Saturday night.
“The Bulldogs are a proud club. They are probably looking at the competition table thinking we need to start winning footy games,” Flanagan said. “They’ll come here with a real attitude about them and we need to be ready for it.
“Their nine, seven, six and one are pretty much intact, they’ve got James Graham and some pretty experienced forwards. We know we’re going to be in a battle.”
Without Andrew Fifita up front, Wade Graham in the backrow and backline stars James Maloney and Jack Bird, the challenge for the Sharks goes up a notch, however the coach is confident in the back-ups he has been able to bring into the squad.
Matt Prior, hardly a back-up but a player Flanagan welcomes back following a week out with suspension, replaces Fifita, while the experienced Gerard Beale moves to the centres for Bird, with Edrick Lee onto the wing.
As for those deputising for Maloney and Graham, Fa’amanu Brown goes into the halves and has done an excellent job their on previous occasions and the talented Kurt Capewell starts the game in the back row.
Otherwise the Sharks team has no injury concerns amongst the selected 17, with Daniel Mortimer 18th man and Jesse Ramien on standby should anything go awry between now and kick off with the outside backs.
The first match at Southern Cross Group Stadium in a long time promises to be beauty, with a full house of more than 18,000 fans expected.
Kick-off to the NRL game is at 7.30pm, the NYC gets underway at 5.15pm and gates to Southern Cross Group Stadium open at 5.00pm.
The Sharks 19-man squad is listed below, with Flanagan to confirm his 17-man team one hour before kick-off.
NRL Team List – Round 12
Sharks v Bulldogs
Saturday, May 27
Southern Cross Group Stadium
Kick-off – 7.30pm
1 Valentine Holmes
2 Sosaia Feki
3 Gerard Beale
4 Ricky Leutele
5 Edrick Lee
6 Fa’amanu Brown
7 Chad Townsend
8 Chris Heighington
9 Jayden Brailey
10 Matt Prior
11 Luke Lewis
12 Kurt Capewell
13 Paul Gallen
14 Jayson Bukuya
15 Sam Tagataese
16 Jeremy Latimore
17 Joseph Paulo
19 Daniel Mortimer
20 Jesse Ramien
Tale of the tape
Sharks 32 wins
Bulldogs 54 wins
At Southern Cross Group Stadium
Past 10 matches
Sharks 52 Bulldogs 10 – Sydney Football Stadium, 2001
Bulldogs 42 Sharks 4 – ANZ Stadium, 2004