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NRL Preview - Sharks v Bulldogs

Sunday is almost now or never for two desperate teams when the Sharks meet the Bulldogs at Bankwest Stadium.

Sitting towards the bottom of the NRL ladder equal on two points with just one win each to show for their efforts through five rounds of the 2020 competition, the winner can re-join the race for a finals berth while the loser will be left languishing amongst the also-rans.

The seriousness of the situation and the importance of the game this weekend wasn't lost on those Sharks players who fronted up for media interviews earlier this week.

“It’s a must win game this week,” Andrew Fifita said.

Centre partner Jesse Ramien expressed similar sentiments.

“We’ve got to get it right,” Ramien offered. “We’ve probably only put together one solid game this year and we thought we still had a lot to improve on from that Cowboys game.

“It’s going to be a tough game and considering the circumstances, both teams are going to be up for it. It’s a matter of us turning up and playing the way we know we can,” Ramien said.

Also weighing in on their slow start to the season, half back Chad Townsend was critical of his team’s recent efforts and clear in what needed to change if they wanted to start winning games.

“We’re doing it to ourselves to be honest. We’re the most ill-disciplined team in the competition, we have the lowest completion rates in the competition and those two areas I mentioned are things we are doing to ourselves and it’s making a big difference,” Townsend said.

“If we can fix those two areas it’s going to give us a chance to win footy games. We’ve got to turn it around quickly.”

While Aaron Woods agreed with Townsend’s assessment in adding, “we’ve all got so much to improve on.”

As identified by all the Sharks were their own worst enemies in going down to the Dragons just a week ago in a game where they had every chance, lost opportunities at crucial times letting them down and tipping the momentum in favour of their opponents.

A 10-6 lead in the first half could have been greater only for a dubious video bunker decision and a lost chance out wide and from there two Dragons tries saw them take a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Sharks coach John Morris has limited the changes, although he has named front rower Royce Hunt in the 17-man squad, putting the former Raider in line to make his debut in Cronulla colours.

Siosifa Talakai earns his second game of the 2020 season taking om the bench utility role and Matt Moylan remains a chance to return, his name added to the Sharks extended reserves bench, with the final squad to tackle the Bulldogs to be revealed one hour prior to tomorrow’s 6.30pm kick off time.

As mentioned, the Sharks go into the contest on the back of a disappointing loss, however similarly their opponents enter the game with their proverbial tail between the legs after suffering a 42-6 hiding at the hands of the Roosters in the game that was shifted from Sunday afternoon to Monday night.

In the head to head between the two clubs, despite the Bulldogs having the positive record against the Sharks with 55 wins from 92 matches, Cronulla has hit a recent purple patch in claiming victory in five of the past six encounters.

That five-match win streak was broken in Round 15 last year at ANZ Stadium, the Bulldogs taking an early 14-0 lead before hanging on for a 14-12 victory the last time the teams met.

Of those most recent clashes, five of the six have been decided by six points or less, including four by a margin of two points or fewer.

This will be the first meeting between these teams at Bankwest Stadium, the Sharks losing their only match played at the venue when they went down to the Tigers 28-16 in Round 3.

The Bulldogs have won three of five games played at Bankwest Stadium

The Sharks and Bulldogs game is scheduled to get underway at 6.30pm tomorrow night at Bankwest Stadium, the match televised on Fox Sports.

The two 19-man squads are listed below.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Sharks is number 21 Matt Moylan
    Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Will Hopoate
  • Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
    Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Christian Crichton
  • Centre for Sharks is number 3 Josh Dugan
    Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Reimis Smith
  • Centre for Sharks is number 4 Jesse Ramien
    Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
  • Winger for Sharks is number 20 Bryson Goodwin
    Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Jake Averillo
  • Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Shaun Johnson
    Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Kieran Foran
  • Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Chad Townsend
    Halfback for Bulldogs is number 20 Brandon Wakeham

Forwards

  • Prop for Sharks is number 10 Aaron Woods
    Prop for Bulldogs is number 8 Renouf To'omaga
  • Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
    Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Jeremy Marshall-King
  • Prop for Sharks is number 15 Braden Hamlin-Uele
    Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Dylan Napa
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
    2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Josh Jackson
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Wade Graham
    2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Raymond Faitala-Mariner
  • Lock for Sharks is number 13 Jack Williams
    Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Adam Elliott

Interchange

  • Interchange for Sharks is number 8 Andrew Fifita
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Kerrod Holland
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Toby Rudolf
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Dean Britt
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Siosifa Talakai
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 16 Sauaso Sue
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Royce Hunt
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Ofahiki Ogden