The Wests Tigers have never lost their opening five games, while another loss on Sunday will see them set a club record for eight straight defeats dating back to last season.
On the surface the slow start to 2022 from their opponents as shown by the results so far, against the strong form of the Sharks through the first four weeks, indicates what might be perceived as a one-sided affair, but the Cronulla side certainly aren’t thinking that way or taking the Tigers lightly, acutely aware of the challenge the face this weekend.
“They have a lot of strong, powerful players,” Sharks backrower Teig Wilton offered. “We know they’ll be starting fast, coming out hard, so we need to be ready for that.”
“They’ve got a point to prove and I think they’ll come out firing,” Braden Hamlin-Uele said in agreeing with his teammate’s sentiments.
However, all that being said, it has been an impressive start to the season for the Sharks, capped off by the 18-0 victory over the Knights in their most recent outing.
“That was the most pleasing part, keeping a team to zero. Consistency is the key for us though,” Hamlin-Uele added.
Similarly, Wilton, who has been amongst his teams best to start the year, was excited about how the Sharks had kicked off 2022.
“It’s only the start of the year, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but there are good signs,” Wilton said.
The Sharks come into the contest having held a team scoreless for the first time since their premiership season of 2016, ironically against the same opponent in Newcastle, the 18-0 win coming after consecutive victories over the Eels and Dragons.
On the flip side, the Tigers have yet to chalk up a vicrory in 2022, although they could be considered desperately unlucky not to have beaten the Titans, giving up the lead with one-minute of the match remaining in going down by 8-6 last Thursday night.
In team news, the Sharks have retained Siosifa Talakai in the centres after his man of the match performance against Newcastle, however Aiden Tolman is a late withdrawal due to illness.
Jack Williams, Royce Hunt and Mawene Hiroti remain in the squad, with the final 17-man team to be announced one hour prior to kick-off.
In the head-to-head matchup, of the 33 games played between the Sharks and the joint-venture club, the Wests Tigers have 18 wins, Cronulla 14, with one draw.
Although the overall record favours the Tigers, in their most recent clashes the Sharks hold the upper hand, having won seven of the past eight games, with the past three decided by 12 points or more
The last meeting saw Cronulla score a resounding 50-20 win in Round 23 in Rockhampton in a match which saw Will Kennedy, Sione Katoa, Ronaldo Mulitalo and Luke Metcalf all register try-scoring doubles.
At PointsBet Stadium, the Sharks have won the past three, and four of the past five games against Tigers, although overall the visitors have the edge, winning eight of the 15 games played, with one draw since 2001.
Through four rounds in 2022 the Sharks are conceding the fewest tries and equal fewest points, while the Tigers are scoring the second fewest tries and points
The Sharks v Tigers match is scheduled to get underway at 4.05pm at PointsBet Stadium on Sunday.
See below the two team lists.
Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William KennedyFullback for Wests Tigers is number 18 Starford To'a
Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione KatoaWinger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
Centre for Sharks is number 3 Jesse RamienCentre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Oliver Gildart
Centre for Sharks is number 4 Siosifa TalakaiCentre for Wests Tigers is number 16 Luke Garner
Winger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo MulitaloWinger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Ken Maumalo
Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Matt MoylanFive-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Jock Madden
Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Nicholas HynesHalfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks
Prop for Sharks is number 8 Toby RudolfProp for Wests Tigers is number 8 James Tamou
Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke BraileyHooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Jacob Liddle
Prop for Sharks is number 10 Braden Hamlin-UeleProp for Wests Tigers is number 10 Zane Musgrove
2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Kelma Tuilagi
2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Teig Wilton2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Luciano Leilua
Lock for Sharks is number 13 Dale FinucaneLock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Joe Ofahengaue
Interchange for Sharks is number 15 Cameron McInnesInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Tyrone Peachey
Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Andrew FifitaInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Alex Twal
Interchange for Sharks is number 18 Jack WilliamsInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Alex Seyfarth
Interchange for Sharks is number 21 Royce HuntInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 20 Thomas Mikaele
Replacement for Sharks is number 19 Mawene HirotiReplacement for Wests Tigers is number 19 Jake Simpkin
- Referee: Adam Gee
- Touch Judge: Drew Oultram
- Touch Judge: Nick Beashel
- Senior Review Official: Steve Chiddy