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Two of the NRL’s long-term top sides will clash on Friday evening in Round 8 as the undermanned Cronulla Sharks face off against the high-flying Melbourne Storm. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 7:55pm (AEDT).
This rivalry has been one of the best over the past couple of years, with the 2016 decider still being a highlight from the neutral perspective.
Coming into the contest, the Sharks are undermanned and understrength. No Matt Moylan or Shaun Johnson will impact their attack greatly, as it did last week when they stumbled and bumbled their way to a loss against the Broncos.
The Broncos haven’t been setting the world on fire, but the usually disciplined Sharks struggled to hang onto the ball or put any pressure on Brisbane’s line, and against a side like the Storm, that pressure is only going to ramp up.
It should be of little surprise that the black, white and blue come into the game as outsiders, despite some reasonable performances over the last two months and home ground advantage.
Melbourne haven’t been at their best either, it has to be said, but are still at the top end of town with just a single loss from their seven starts.
They got away with one last time out on Anzac Day against the New Zealand Warriors in what was an exceptionally close affair, but may need to be better to contend with a Sharks pack led by Paul Gallen who often pick up their level with backs to the wall.
Still, they have enough attacking weapons that they should be able to put the Sharks brittle defensive line under consistent pressure.
In saying all of that, the combinations haven’t been ticking this year, and it might all come down to the level of Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster if they are going to get well in front of this game.
It has a slightly similar feel to it as their Warriors encounter, when they had to come from behind in a game they were supposed to win by plenty, but all in all, it’s extremely hard to see them being that poor again against a side struggling in the face of injuries.
The Sharks are undermanned, and while they might be at home and will try to make it scrappy, Melbourne should hold the lead for the first hour or so, then skip away with this one as Cameron Smith takes over yet again.
Storm by 14.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of this huge Friday night NRL clash from 7:55pm (AEDT) and don’t forget to add a comment in the section below.
Kick-off: 7:55pm (AEDT)
Venue: PointsBet Stadium, Cronulla
TV: Live, Fox League 502, Channel Nine
Online: Live, Foxtel App, Foxtel Now, Kayo Sports, 9Now, NRL Digital Pass
Betting: Storm $1.40, Sharks $2.95
Overall record: Played 37, Storm 23, Sharks 14
Last meeting: 2018 preliminary final – Storm 22 defeat Sharks 6 at AAMI Park
Last five: Sharks 3, Storm 2
Record at venue: Played 16, Sharks 8, Storm 8
Referees: Ben Cummins, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
1. Will Kennedy 20. Aaron Gray 3. Bronson Xerri 4. Josh Morris 5. Sione Katoa 6. Kyle Flanagan 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Briton Nikora 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Paul Gallen 14. Blayke Brailey 15. Jayson Bukuya 16. Jack Williams 17. Braden Hamlin-uele 18. Scott Sorensen 21. Josh Dugan
1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Will Chambers 4. Marion Seve 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 15. Christian Welch 16. Tui Kamikamica 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen 19. Patrick Kaufusi 20. Joe Stimson 21. Curtis Scott