Local footy takes centre stage

Local A Grade footy will be on full show at Southern Cross Group Stadium this Sunday when the Engadine Dragons and Como Crocodiles run out for an NRL curtain-raiser.

The fixture is the first time in 2018 that a match in the Cronulla-Sutherland Junior League Open Gold Division will be served as the entrée at a Sharks home game.

Engadine coach Michael Stone said his side will relish the opportunity to play before the NRL on what promises to be a fantastic afternoon of football.

"It's a good opportunity for our boys, especially the younger ones, to get a run around on Shark Park," said Stone.

"It's a good promotion for the local rugby league as well to showcase a bit of what A Grade is about. From a coach's point of view it's a good thing, and from the players' point of view I know they're all excited."

Stone is confident the match will be well supported by passionate Sutherland Shire residents and club football fans.

"Everyone in the Shire has their local team that they've grown up with, and when you can get the A Grade teams in amongst [NRL game day] it should create a pretty good vibe down at Shark Park I think," he said.

Como coach Sam Isemonger, who played 74 matches for the Sharks between 1998 and 2005, also strongly endorsed A Grade as the perfect way to warm up Cronulla crowds for NRL action.

"I think it's something that should be done more often than not. I think people want to watch that sort of stuff," said Isemonger.

"Me going through the ranks at Cronulla, I know a lot of people used to enjoy watching the reserve grade and the older guys playing. If it was something that happened more often I'd definitely support it."

Isemonger said the match will bring him back to his own playing days at the Sharks.

"I'm a little bit excited myself. It will be good fun from my perspective; it will be different watching from the sideline as a coach," he said.

"But I'll get as much enjoyment out of the occasion as the players do, that's for sure."

Engadine and Como have met once already this year, the Dragons clinching a 34-18 victory in that season-opening match.

With the Crocodiles sitting in fourth position and the Dragons in second, both teams are preparing for a tough and physical encounter this time around.

The gates at Southern Cross Group Stadium open at 1:45pm on Sunday, with the Como v Engadine match kicking off at 1:50pm.

Teams for both clubs are listed below.

Como Crocodiles
1. Daniel Buckley
2. Daniel Falconbridge
3. Taylor Fepuleai
4. Niketa Kepping
5. Brady Stewart
6. Mark Lennon
7. Dom Wallace
8. Hayden Fepuleai
9. Luke Bateman
10. Fine Kula
11. Dylan Sparks
12. Rob Wishart
13. Ryan Archer
Interchange
14. Kieren Bowden
15. Brayden Mechen
16. Ezekiel Vaotuua
17. Tom Andersen
18. Brad Ellis
19. Dan Poulsen
20. Henry Harding
Coach - Sam Isemonger/Mark Lennon

Engadine Dragons
1. Matthew Stubbs
2. Jonah Ngoronoa
3. Nathan Henderson
4. Scott Allen
5. Robert Rowlands
6. Jarrad Fitzgerald
7. Adam Whitelaw
8. Robert Worsley
9. Jye Bowen
10. Mick Newton
11. Chris Woods
12. Chris Slater-Raptis
13. Marcus Fisher
Interchange
14. Shane Newton
15. Khan Salamalikis
16. Marcus Perenara
17. Scott Nancarrow
18. Daniel Brubaker
19. Andrew Johnston
20. Brett Denford
Coach – Michael Stone

NOTE:  For those unable to attend, the Engadine v Como match will be shown via live stream on the Sharks Facebook page. 

Lead photo - Daniel Falconbridge from Como and Khan Salamalikis from Engadine