Scouting Report: The Sharks
Cronulla sat in top spot on the NRL ladder for much of the season and on Saturday night they will aim to take it back.
Led by a tough forward pack and with speed to burn out wide there are plenty of attacking threats for the visitors to throw at the Storm line.
We take a close look at the boys from the Shire ahead of Saturday night’s blockbuster at AAMI Park.
The battle between the two forwards packs will go a long way to deciding the outcome of Saturday night’s game. Storm rank second for metres gained in the NRL, the Sharks sit third. Andrew Fifita, Wade Graham and Paul Gallen are all big boys that will take some serious stopping. Fifita ranks fifth in the NRL for total metres this season while Gallen proved last week how important he is to his side, marking his return from a two-week absence with 212m, 26 tackles, three offloads and a try. The forward packs of both Storm and the Sharks have been key reasons to their sides’ success in 2016 and that will again hold true for Saturday night.
Plenty of pace
When these two teams last met in Round 4 both of the Sharks’ tries came from blistering runs through the middle of the Storm defence. Ben Barba, Jack Bird, Valentine Holmes and Chad Townsend all have bursts of speed that pose a threat to the purple wall. No doubt Craig Bellamy and the coaching staff will have dissected the film from that Round 4 game and will be working on a plan to ensure they can put the brakes on the Sharks’ speedsters.
Under your skin
There is no secret the Sharks have players not afraid to get under the skin of their opponents. Gallen, Fifita and Michael Ennis are the trio in particular that quite enjoy engaging in some mental warfare. Strong heads and a thick skin will be needed by the Melbourne boys to ensure any sledging from the visitors falls on deaf ears.