Round 16 Key Match-Ups

It may only be round 16, but tonight's clash between the Sharks and the Warriors shapes as a critical one for both sides.

The visitors will be looking to get their season back on track after two losses in their past three matches, and it won't come easy against a Warriors side hoping to consolidate their place in the top four.

The Sharks have the upper hand against the New Zealander's, having won eight of the past 10 games between the two, including the last three. A trend the men in the black, white and blue will be keen to continue.

Let's take a look at three of the key match-ups which may go a long way to deciding the outcome of tonight's match.

 

Chad Townsend vs Shaun Johnson

Sharks' half Chad Townsend will have to be on his A-game this week as he squares off against his former teammate, the electrifying Shaun Johnson.

Townsend's structured style will tonight be challenged by the razzle-dazzle football that the Warriors like to play, but both he and new halves partner Matt Moylan are really starting to hit their straps coming in to the back end of the season, and if anyone knows what Johnson is like, it's Chad.

Johnson wasn't released by the Warriors to play in last week's Denver test, having recently returned from injury only two weeks ago.

We've all seen the magic that Johnson is capable of, and the Sharks will need to limit his space and time to give themselves the best chance of taking the two-points back across the Tasman.

 

Scott Sorensen vs Tohu Harris

Scott Sorensen returns to the starting line up this week to bolster the Sharks' pack with his speed and strength.

Sorensen only recently returned to the paddock for the Newtown Jets after a stint on the sideline with a broken hand.

His form has been great for the Jets too, earning him a call up into the Intrust Super Premierships' NSW Residents side, where he was named as Captain, but was a late withdrawal from the match.

Sorensen spent the week in camp, however Sharks coach Shane Flanagan decided to err on the side of caution with three of his back-rowers already set for extended periods on the sideline.

Sharks fans have only seen Sorensen three times this year, but will surely have his individual display of brilliance against the Panthers back in round seven still fresh in their minds.

Sorensen showed impressive footwork and speed, turning Peter Wallace inside out before outpacing Dylan Edwards to score his first try in the NRL.

Tohu Harris, Sorensen's opposite number, also withdrew from the Kiwi's test match against England last week. He made the decision to put club before country, and will be hoping it pays off tonight.

He's been in great form for the Warriors over the opening half of the season, and when running off Johnson, proves difficult for his opposition to stop.

While the battle of the opposing halves will be crucial, it's right here in the forwards where the game could be won and lost.

 

Valentine Holmes vs Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Once again Valentine Holmes will be backing up from Origin when he takes to the field tonight at Mt Smart Stadium.

Val more than justified his selection with strong performances in both games for the Maroons, one of Queensland's best two games running and scoring his sixth try in just four Origin games.

Holmes got through plenty of work coming out of danger, something that the Sharks will be hoping he replicates tonight against the Warriors.

The Sharks No. 1 is in great form and will be dangerous to contain if he gets even an inch of space tonight.

His opponent on the other hand, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, was withdrawn from selection for the Kiwi clash and has been well rested this week.

He'll be itching to get out there and certainly proves a handful for tired defence with his electric footwork and speed to burn.

The Sharks will need to be wary of where RTS pops up in and around the ruck, as he's sure to be sniffing around and the Warriors love to switch the play from one side to the other and find him at pace up against tired bodies.