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Sharks fired up for a Thursday night derby

Two teams with one win, one loss records, both looking to establish themselves early on in the season as serious as finals contenders, sets up another enthralling installment in what is one of the most fiercely fought local rivalries.

The Sharks and Dragons face off for the 49th time (since St George and Illawarra became one) in what shapes as a Thursday night classic in Wollongong, a match where bragging rights amongst the fans and playing groups goes on the line.

For the Sharks they head down the highway with a bounce in their step after scoring a last-ditch victory over the Eels, that win coming on the back of surrendering the points in a similar fashion in a narrow loss in round one.

While for the Dragons, after a solid first up performance in beating the Warriors, they were perhaps somewhat unlucky to go down to the defending premiers the Panthers last weekend and they too will kick off tomorrow night with a high level of confidence.

In just his third game in charge, Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon has the Sharks well prepared despite the short turnaround from Saturday’s Eels win, however he is well aware of the task confronting his team.

“They’ve been impressive in both their game,” Fitzgibbon said of the Dragons.

“Even leading out the Charity Shield they were impressive there as well. They’ve got some exciting young players, a balance of experience and we’re under no illusion as to the challenge we face,” he added.

Part of that challenge about which Fitzgibbon speaks, will be around containing the speedy Dragons backline, as well as countering their aggressive forward pack, but the addition of former St George skipper Cam McInnes to the Sharks line up, the continued development of the halves combination of Nicho Hynes and Matt Moylan, coupled with the leadership provided by Dale Finucane, has Cronulla ready to continue their winning ways.

In a set back for the Sharks however, Teig Wilton, the scorer of the winning try against the Eels and arguably one of his team’s best through the opening two rounds, will be missing through suspension, while due to having just a five-day break in between matches, Ronaldo Mulitalo hasn’t been able to complete the concussion protocols in time for tomorrow’s game.

Siosifa Talakai comes into the Sharks run-on side for Wilton, the experienced Matt Ikuvalu slots in for Mulitalo, and in an interesting selection on the interchange bench, Fitzgibbon has opted for utility Braydon Trindall due to his versatility and ability to cover numerous positions.  

“He’s a tough kid. He can play anywhere on the field and it’s nice to have that coverage in case something goes pear shaped,” Fitzgibbon explained.

In emphasising the fact that playing in Wollongong is a difficult assignment, since 1990 the Sharks have recorded just two wins at WIN, with both of those coming in their past four visits. The two teams have met eight times at the venue, the most recent encounter coming in 2019 when the Sharks were victorious by 22-9.

Overall, there have been 48 matches played, the Sharks winning 24, the Dragons 23, with one draw, Cronulla having won five of the past six matches and looking for a fourth straight victory when the teams meet tomorrow.

The teams last played in round 11 last season, the Sharks beating the Dragons in golden point.

While in relation to local derby’s Fitzgibbon, an Illawarra junior, played just one when at the Dragons, coming off the bench in the infamous 1999 prelim final.

In player milestones, Moylan takes to the field for his 150th NRL match, the Sharks five eighth playing 89 games for the Panthers before joining the Cronulla club in 2018.

As they do on an annual basis, the Sharks and Dragons will play for the Monty Porter Memorial Trophy in honour of the Sharks first captain in 1967, a long-time administrator at Cronulla and a man who represented the Dragons during their 11-premiership reign during the 1950’s and ‘60’s.

The Sharks have trimmed their 24-man squad to 19 for the game which is scheduled for an 8.05pm kick-off at WIN Stadium tomorrow night, with Royce Hunt and Luke Metcalf retained on an extended reserves bench.

See the two 19-man squads listed below.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Tyrell Sloan
    Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William Kennedy
  • Winger for Dragons is number 2 Cody Ramsey
    Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
  • Centre for Dragons is number 3 Moses Suli
    Centre for Sharks is number 3 Jesse Ramien
  • Centre for Dragons is number 4 Zac Lomax
    Centre for Sharks is number 4 Connor Tracey
  • Winger for Dragons is number 5 Mikaele Ravalawa
    Winger for Sharks is number 5 Matt Ikuvalu
  • Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Talatau Amone
    Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Matt Moylan
  • Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Ben Hunt
    Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Nicholas Hynes

Forwards

  • Prop for Dragons is number 8 Francis Molo
    Prop for Sharks is number 8 Toby Rudolf
  • Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Moses Mbye
    Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
  • Prop for Dragons is number 10 Blake Lawrie
    Prop for Sharks is number 10 Braden Hamlin-Uele
  • 2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Jack Bird
    2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
  • 2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Jaydn Su'A
    2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Siosifa Talakai
  • Lock for Dragons is number 13 Tariq Sims
    Lock for Sharks is number 13 Dale Finucane

Interchange

  • Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Jack De Belin
    Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Aiden Tolman
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 15 Josh Kerr
    Interchange for Sharks is number 15 Cameron McInnes
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 16 Jackson Ford
    Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Braydon Trindall
  • Interchange for Dragons is number 17 Jack Gosiewski
    Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Andrew Fifita

Reserves

  • Replacement for Dragons is number 18 Tautau Moga
    Replacement for Sharks is number 18 Luke Metcalf

Match Officials

  • Referee: Gerard Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Belinda Sharpe
  • Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
  • Senior Review Official: Ashley Klein

Last updated:

 

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.