A fierce local derby is the perfect way to finish things off in Round 3 of the NRL.
Both teams enter this game with identical 1-1 records but Cronulla will be the more confident of the two, having won impressively last start.
The Sharks go into this off the back of a huge 42-16 win over the Raiders in Canberra while the Dragons were the complete opposite of their Round 1 win over the Panthers, going down 34-16 to the rampant Eels in Wollongong.
Some were criticising the premiers after their opening loss against the Broncos at home. Well, Paul Gallen and crew quickly put that effort behind them with a resounding victory in the nation’s capital.
The win signaled that Cronulla weren’t going to give up their title easily and their two efforts against the Broncos and Raiders, both heavyweights again this season, indicates that they will be one of the teams to beat this year.
In a boost for the Sharks, gun winger/fullback Valentine Holmes is expected to make his return to the side for his first match of the season following a minor hamstring injury.
OLD HABITS DIE HARD
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA returned to their bad old ways against the Eels last week.
Ultra impressive in their opening round game, the Dragons then conspired against themselves last week by dropping too much ball and not completing their sets (71.4%).
The dropped ball from Russell Packer from the kick off set the scene with the Eels making them pay by opening the scoring in less than a minute. Needless to say, Stgeorge Illawarra need to start the better of the two teams here if they are any hope of winning.
The Dragons caused one of the biggest upsets of 2016 when they trounced the Sharks at Kogarah back in Round 23.
Jumping the Sharks early the Red V raced out to a big lead before going on to record a 32-18 win.
STGEORGE ILLAWARRA has won four of the past six derbys but the advantage switches to the Sharks when it comes to playing in Cronulla, where they have won four of the past.
You have to go with the Sharks ($1.40 on Betfair) here.
Cronulla lost just once at home in 2016 on their way to winning the premiership and although they were beaten at Shark Park by the Broncos a few weeks back, they are a far more polished team now.
In a big warning shot for the Dragons, Cronulla totally dominated the Raiders in running metres last week by running 420 metres more.
Battles between these sides are always tough, fierce and competitive and many times you just have to throw away the formguide. On that basis, don’t discard the Dragons completely but maybe a live bet on them is the way to go just to get an indication of where their mindset is.
All things being equal though and the Sharks are the tip here.
MATCH WINNER TIP: CRONULLA
FIRST TRYSCORER: RICKY LEUTELE
MARGIN BETTING: SHARKS 1-12
OTHER TIP: ANDREW FIFITA LAST TRYSCORER