Anyone can contribute to The Roar and have their work featured alongside some of Australia’s most prominent sports journalists.
The Cronulla Sharks will be desperate to reverse a five-game losing streak when they open Round 19 at home against the North Queensland Cowboys. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 7:50pm (AEST).
This is high stakes footy as the back end of the year arrives, and for the Sharks, a turn around in momentum and results has never been more critical.
They have scored more tries than their opposition in four of the last five games, but still found a way to lose the lot of them, whether through poor goal kicking or horrendous match management.
The only other game during that period (and really, given the teams they were playing, the only game they were expected to lose pre-match) came in Melbourne during Cameron Smith’s 400th where they were belted.
The run of losses has seen the black, white and blue tumble out of the top eight and, while it’s not season over, a couple more losses will put them on the brink.
One way or another, they need to find a way to work with Shaun Johnson and build the game plan around him. On paper, a halves combination of Johnson and Chad Townsend should be perfect but, in reality, it’s been a nightmare.
While their attack is important against the Cowboys though, it’s middle third defence which will be most critical and made even more so by the loss of Andrew Fifita.
If Jason Taumalolo and the rest of the North Queensland pack get a head of steam up and start to dominate territory and possession, then through Jake Clifford, they have the ability to run the points up.
Still, the spine is largely inexperienced, and getting into a grind won’t suit the men from Townsville either, seeing as that’s what the Sharks do best.
It’s a side who have been up and down, with a home loss to the Rabbitohs hurting them big time.
In saying that, they have been playing enough good footy to have positive thoughts coming into this contest.
The Sharks should be able to turn around their run of losses and take the points at home in a tight one.
Sharks by 4.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of the Round 19 opener from 7:50pm (AEST) and don’t forget to add a comment in the section below.
Kick-off: 7:50pm (AEST)
Venue: PointsBet Stadium, Cronulla
TV: Live, Fox League 501, Channel 9
Online: Live, Kayo Sports, Foxtel App, Foxtel Now, 9Now, NRL Digital Pass
Betting: Sharks $1.50, Cowboys $2.54
Overall record: Played 47, Sharks 29, Cowboys 18
Last meeting: Round 3, 2019 – Cowboys 16 defeated by Sharks 42 at 1300 Smiles Stadium, Townsville
Last five: Sharks 3, Cowboys 2
Record at venue: Played 19, Sharks 14, Cowboys 5
Referees: Matt Cecchin, Jon Stone
1. Josh Dugan 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Bronson Xerri 4. Josh Morris 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Braden Hamlin-Uele 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 11. Briton Nikora 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Paul Gallen
Interchange: 14. Blayke Brailey 15. Jack Williams 16. Matt Prior 17. Billy Magoulias 18. Jayson Bukuya 19. Kyle Flanagan 20. Scott Sorensen 21. Sione Katoa
North Queensland Cowboys
1. Scott Drinkwater 2. Kyle Feldt 3. Javid Bowen 4. Tom Opacic 5. Murray Taulagi 6. John Asiata 7. Jake Clifford 8. Josh McGuire 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Shane Wright 13. Jason Taumalolo
Interchange: 14. Coen Hess 15. Matt Scott 16. Scott Bolton 17. Francis Molo 18. Peter Hola 19. Reuben Cotter 20. Corey Jensen 21. Gideon Gela-Mosby