This Saturday just one NRL match will take place and it is a showdown between two low-ranking sides as the Cronulla Sharks (No. 13) play the Canterbury Bulldogs (No. 14) at Bluetongue Stadium.
Both teams have had a shocking season and look little to no chance of being around come September. Still, every win is an important one so expect them to come out ready to fight to the death for this one.
Last week the Sharks secured their fifth win of the season when they claimed a close 20 – 19 win ahead of the Cowboys in a thrilling game that went into extra-time. The Bulldogs also enjoyed a win last round, putting an end to their dismal six-match losing streak with a tidy 18 – 10 victory over the Raiders.
They are both capable of winning and winning big, but for whatever reason have just failed to fire this season.
Cronulla will be under strength on Saturday, with three of their stars away on Origin duties. They will play without Trent Barrett named as the Blues captain, Paul Gallen, and Kade Snowden making his Origin debut. The loss of Gallen and Snowden is a big blow for the Sharks forward pack, and makes their attack look far less dangerous.
Origin strips Canterbury of just one player, Michael Ennis, and so obviously this gives the Dogs a bit of confidence knowing they still have Kimmorley, Idris, Barba and Hannant on board, Ben Hannant dropped from the Maroons in favour of the returning Petero Civoniceva.
Without Barrett and Gallen, who have been instrumental to the Sharks wins this season, we like the looks of the Bulldogs in this one and so do the bookies. Ladbrokes.com.au have Canterbury at $1.38 for a win, while the Sharks are the long-priced underdogs currently paying $3.05.
If the Bulldogs bring the same defence they did last week and work on their attack they should pull through.
Current Head-to-Head Odds:
Sharks $3.05 – Bulldogs $1.38 Ladbrokes.com.au
Round 17 Sharks Team:
1. Nathan Gardner 2. Blake Ferguson 3. Dean Collis 4. Ben Pomeroy 5. Isaac Gordon 6. Scott Porter 7. Tim Smith 8. Josh Cordoba 9. John Morris 10. Luke Douglas (c) 11. Grant Millington 12. Broderick Wright 13. Anthony Tupou
Bench: 14. Luke Harlen 15. Taulima Tautai 16. Paul Aiton 17. Siosaia Vave
Round 17 Bulldogs Team:
1. Luke Patten 2. Steve Turner 3. Josh Morris 4. Shane Neumann 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. Ben Barba 7. Brett Kimmorley 8. Ben Hannant 9. Joel Romelo 10. Ryan Tandy 11. Jamal Idris 12. Andrew Ryan 13. David Stagg
Bench: 14. Mickey Paea 15. Michael Hodgson 16. Gary Warburton 17. Blake Green