Cronulla Sharks look to continue their sensational form when they entertain the Gold Coast Titans in the final game on Super Saturday at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
Capturing back-to-back premierships has become an almost impossible feat over the two decades, and while there’s still a long way too go, Cronulla’s last two performances have a lot of people saying they could break the drought.
The Sharks haven’t conceded a try over the last fortnight in their two victories over the Storm and Panthers - sides that were joint premiership favourites at the start of the season.
Furthermore, both triumphs were recorded away from home, with Cronulla conceding just one penalty goal in each game, clinically grinding out a tough with over Melbourne in torrential rain before dismantling Penrith 28-2 last week.
As was the case last season, the Sharks have been blessed with minimal injury concerns, with 12 of their players this week featuring in every game this season, including their halves and entire starting forward pack.
By contrast, just six Titans have played every game this season, while Gold Coast have used six more players throughout the first seven rounds than Cronulla.
However the Titans could welcome back multiple key figures this week, with Jarryd Hayne, Kevin Proctor, Konrad Hurrell and Joe Greenwood all named in the reserves as they continue their comebacks from injury.
While the Titans sit second-last on the ladder, they can take solace in the fact that their attack is still firing - they’ve actually scored four more tries than the Sharks this season - so if they can tidy up their defence, Gold Coast would prove to be a formidable force.
But there’s also the concern that the inclusion of Jarryd Hayne could disrupt the combinations that the Titans have established in the backline - sort of similar to what happened when Hayne arrived at the club midway through last season.
Hayne hasn’t proven to be a hit at the Titans as most thought, and if he plays, I actually think Gold Coast’s attack will suffer. Cronulla should tough out another victory and continue on their winning ways.
- Sharks won four of last seven meetings
- Titans won two of last three at Southern Cross Group Stadium
- Last four matches between the sides have been decided by six points or less
Hayne, Proctor and Hurrell have been named in the reserves after training strongly this week, while Greenwood has joined the interchange in place of Max King.
Cronulla are unchanged from last week.
Sharks: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jack Bird 4. Ricky Leutele 5. Kurt Capewell 6. James Maloney 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Luke Lewis 12. Wade Graham 13. Paul Gallen 14. Jayson Bukuya 15. Chris Heighington 16. Jeremy Latimore 17. Joseph Paulo 18. Tony Williams 19. Sam Tagataese 20. Edrick Lee 21. Fa’amanu Brown
Titans: 1. Tyrone Roberts 2. Anthony Don 3. Dale Copley 4. Dan Sarginson 5. Tyrone Roberts-Davis 6. Kane Elgey 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James 11. Chris McQueen 12. Chris Grevsmuhl 13. Ryan Simpkins 14. Karl Lawton 15. Joe Greenwood 16. Paterika Vaivai 17. Leivaha Pulu 18. Jarryd Hayne 19. Kevin Proctor 20. Konrad Hurrell 21. Morgan Boyle