The winner will take over third position on the NRL ladder, while the loser will fall back into a three-team battle for fourth, when the Sharks and Roosters clash in a game with serious finals implications.
Sitting two points behind their rivals ahead of the game at Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sharks coach Shane Flanagan believes his team is ready to put their best foot forward tomorrow night on a night celebrating another milestone game for one of their leading performers.
“It’s exciting times going into semi-finals. There’s some big games coming up and I’m looking forward to it,” Flanagan said.
With Wade Graham leading the team out in his 200th NRL game, the Sharks will fancy their chances opposing a team against who they have enjoyed some recent success.
Winners by 44-12 over the Roosters back in round 17, the Sharks have won the last six meetings between the teams, but those past performances will mean little come the 7.30pm kick off on Saturday night.
“What’s gone on before won’t get us any start tomorrow. It will be a really big crowd and its an important time of the year,” Flanagan said. “We need to put our foot down against good opposition and we intend to do that tomorrow night.”
For 50-60 minutes of their match against the Cowboys last Saturday night the Sharks did indeed put their foot down so to speak, racing out to a 24-6 lead.
From their things became a little sloppy, however the Sharks managed to fly home form North Queensland with the all-important two competition points. This week though they will be looking for a more complete effort.
“It’s a must win if we want to cement that top four spot and we’ve got to turn up and put on an 80-minute performance,” young hooker Jayden Brailey said.
While centre Kurt Capewell added;
“We ticked a lot of boxes in that first half, but there’s still plenty of improvement in us. We discussed the second half and there are a few things we need to fix up,” Capewell said. “It’s Wado’s 200th, our last home game, so I’m pretty sure the boys will be up and ready to go.”
For the Roosters match Flanagan has named an unchanged line up to the one which claimed the points in Townsville last weekend.
Brailey starts the match at hooker, James Segeyaro is again on the interchange bench, while Graham trained strongly all week, dispelling any fears that the calf tightness that saw him replaced just after half time against the Cowboys would hinder his performance this week.
Flanagan has taken Joseph Paulo and Fa’amanu Brown out of his 21-man squad as selected on Tuesday, with Chris Heighington and Jesse Ramien remaining on an extended bench.
As for the Roosters, Daniel Tupou is missing, meaning young gun Latrell Mitchell will be required to play on the wing, Ryan Matterson and Mitchell Aubusson coming together in a make-shift centre pairing.
The Sharks v Roosters clash is scheduled for a 7.30pm kick off at Southern Cross Group Stadium, with the NYC match at 5.15pm and gates opening at 5.00.
The Sharks 19-man team list is below, along with a variety of statistics relevant to Sharks v Roosters games.
NRL TEAM LIST – Round 25
Sharks v Roosters
Saturday, August 26
Southern Cross Group Stadium
Kick-off – 7.30pm
1 - Valentine Holmes
2 - Sosaia Feki
3 - Kurt Capewell
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 - Jayson Bukuya
15 - Sam Tagataese
16 - Jeremy Latimore
17 - James Segeyaro
18 - Chris Heighington
21 - Jesse Ramien
Head to Head (as supplied by Sam Shinazzi – Fox Sports Lab - SharkCastTV)
· Cronulla has won the past six matches against the Roosters.
- The past three matches have been by a combined total of 113-44.
• The Sharks have lost just the one match against the Roosters at Southern Cross Group Stadium in the past seven matches (five wins one draw).
• Combined these two teams average 23 errors per match, second worst (Roosters 11.2) and worst (Sharks 11.9) in the league.
· Cronulla scored 24 of their 26 points in the first half last week, the most points they have scored in a first half since Round 10, 2016.
· Four out of the five wins for Cronulla at home have been by four points or less this season.
· The Roosters have won nine games this season by six points or less
· The Roosters have won three of eight away matches
· The Roosters have scored 38 tries (47.5% of their tries) down the left side this season, second most in the league.
· Wade Graham will play his 200th NRL match.
· He debuted for Penrith against the Dragons in Round 15, 2008.
· Graham played 42 matches for the Panthers before moving to the Sharks in 2011.
· Graham has won both his 100th and 150th milestone matches
· Shane Flanagan’s 72.7% winning record against the Roosters is his best against any other opponent (eight wins, a draw and two losses from 11 matches).