Can the Sharks break their hoodoo against the Sea Eagles?
Cronulla doesn’t like playing against their fierce rivals and the historical stats back that up with their win percentage of just 27.3 percent the worst they have against any club in the NRL.
This Sharks outfit, however, are the defending premiers and if any side is capable of breaking the hold that Manly have over them it is this one.
Cronulla will go into this game having pulled one from the fire against the Tigers last week, minus their Origin stars, in a thrilling 24-22 result.
Manly are fresh from having the week off but prior to that were a little rusty, and lucky, in getting the better of Newcastle 18-14 to firmly entrench themselves in the top eight.
Punters should approach this game with caution as the Sharks will have five players backing up from State Of Origin commitments while Manly will be hoping Jake Trbojevic takes his place on the field.
EVERY GAME A TIGHT GAME
Cronulla have taken on the role of defending premiers in their stride in 2017.
Of their 14 games played so far this season, 11 of them have been decided by single figures with the Sharkies getting the two points on seven of those.
Sitting third on the table going into Round 16, Cronulla’s brutal defence has done the job most weeks and has conceded a league low of 13.85ppg.
MANLY continue to be one of the stories of the season.
With eight wins and five losses, Trent Barrett’s side sit fifth on the table and that position is justified as they have been impressive on a number of occasions throughout the year.
They have ridden their luck in their past two wins over the Raiders and Knights, however, that is what good teams do and it wouldn’t be the worst bet in the world to have something on the Sea Eagles to make the top four. Sportsbet have them at $4.50.
As mentioned previously it’s the Sea Eagles who have enjoyed the better of the clashes in this contest.
MANLY has won seven of the past eight games between the teams and 13 of the past 15, however, did lose the last encounter which was almost 12 months ago to the day at Shark Park.
Remarkably you have to go back to 2004 to find the last time Cronulla beat Manly in consecutive matches.
We get the feeling that an upset could be on the cards and are willing to take the value about the Sea Eagles ($2.50 @ Unibet) in this one.
They don’t have anywhere near as many players backing up from Origin which will surely have some impact on the Sharks here. What will make the home side’s task more difficult is their slow starts to games.
Manly has a fantastic road record (5-0) which should hold them in good stead here while Cronulla’s brilliant home stats of last season are a distant memory in 2017, boasting just a 50 percent win percentage at Southern Cross Group Stadium this season.
This match up will also see the competition’s best attack (Manly, 23ppg) up against the best defence so punters are set to be highly entertained.