To be played in the unfamiliar surrounds of the CBus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, rather than at a chilly GIO Stadium in Canberra, the challenge remains a difficult one for a Sharks team aiming to consolidate their position inside the top eight.
While a win by the Sharks will see them solidify their position in the eight and take another step towards a finals berth, a loss to Canberra, who are on the outside looking in, and it would become a log jam of teams trying too qualify for the playoffs which are still eight weeks away.
The Sharks held on to claim the points over the Warriors last Sunday afternoon, however this week is again a pivotal match, against an opponent some believe have underachieved so far in 2021 yet who boast a big forward pack and formidable line up across the board.
Now to be played at 5.30pm at CBus Stadium, changed from the original 3.00pm kick-off due to the late relocation of the Melbourne Storm, Sharks forward Toby Rudolf is one who realises the challenge his team is facing.
“I see it being a really physical game,” Rudolf began. “They’ve got some big boppers in there team, Denamis Lui, Joe Tapine is a very skilful forward, (Josh) Papalii, see how he goes coming back from Origin but he’s always a beast regardless of how many minutes he plays.
“I see it being an absolute slug fest,” Rudolf added.
Five eighth Braydon Trindall, in deputising in the halves for the injured Matt Moylan played a pivotal role in the win last weekend, expects another difficult assignment on Saturday evening.
“It’s going to be tough. They’re going to be up for it, we’ll be up for it. It’s going to be a good game,” Trindall said.
In these uncertainly times with COVID hubs and changing game venues, the Sharks had some good news with Aaron Woods joining the team last night and cleared to play.
Woods remained in Sydney for the birth of his second child, a baby girl Coco Rae, however has passed all the COVID protocols, was on a charter flight with a number of officials and other players late yesterday and ready to take his place in the Sharks team.
The confirmation of his inclusion mean the Sharks team will run out as selected for tomorrow night’s game.
If Sharks they are to record a win and continue their push for a Finals berth, they would need to turn around a current trend which has seen Canberra victorious in the past five encounters against Cronulla, the longest win streak by either team in matches between the two clubs.
Overall however, the Sharks hold a narrow advantage, having won 39 times, as opposed to 37 wins from the Raiders in the 76 games played.
Canberra won the last meeting, a 12-10 victory in Round 2 in a match where the Raiders skipped out to a 12-0 lead, the Sharks scoring the final 10 points of the match but ultimately coming up just short.
While the Sharks have won five of their past six matches, Canberra have struggle of late, claiming the two competition points last weekend for just the third time since Round 4 when they defeated Manly.
With the game now to be played on the Gold Coast, rather than in a chilly GIO Stadium in Canberra, the records of both teams in Queensland provides interesting reading.
The Raiders have won four of their past six matches in Queensland, the Sharks seven of their past 10 played in the Sunshine State, including a five game winning streak before losing in Round 16 at Suncorp Stadium against Brisbane.
Again starting strongly will be crucial to the Sharks success, the Cronulla team winning seven of nine matches when leading at half-time, but yet to win in 2021 when level or trailing at the break (7 matches).
In relation to the players, Ronaldo Mulitalo has scored four tries in four matches
against Canberra, his equal highest tally against any team, while skipper Woods will be looking for his 100th NRL win in what will be his 226th match.
See below the two 19-man squad lists for the Sharks and Raiders game which will be the first of a double header at CBus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast on Saturday, with a round 18 match between the Storm and Knights to follow.
Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Xavier SavageFullback for Sharks is number 1 William Kennedy
Winger for Raiders is number 2 Semi ValemeiWinger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
Centre for Raiders is number 3 Jarrod CrokerCentre for Sharks is number 3 Connor Tracey
Centre for Raiders is number 4 Sebastian KrisCentre for Sharks is number 4 Jesse Ramien
Winger for Raiders is number 5 Jordan RapanaWinger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack WightonFive-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Braydon Trindall
Halfback for Raiders is number 7 Sam WilliamsHalfback for Sharks is number 7 Shaun Johnson
Prop for Raiders is number 10 Emre GulerProp for Sharks is number 8 Aiden Tolman
Hooker for Raiders is number 9 Josh HodgsonHooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
Prop for Raiders is number 16 Iosia SoliolaProp for Sharks is number 10 Aaron Woods
2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 Corey Harawira-Naera2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Teig Wilton
2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Hudson Young2nd Row for Sharks is number 15 Siosifa Talakai
Lock for Raiders is number 13 Ryan SuttonLock for Sharks is number 13 Toby Rudolf
Interchange for Raiders is number 8 Josh PapaliiInterchange for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
Interchange for Raiders is number 14 Tom StarlingInterchange for Sharks is number 14 Mawene Hiroti
Interchange for Raiders is number 15 Joseph TapineInterchange for Sharks is number 16 Jack Williams
Interchange for Raiders is number 17 Ryan JamesInterchange for Sharks is number 17 Braden Hamlin-Uele
Reserve for Raiders is number 18 Matthew TimokoReserve for Sharks is number 19 Royce Hunt
- Referee: Grant Atkins
- Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
- Touch Judge: Drew Oultram
- Senior Review Official: Henry Perenara