Friday night footy doesn’t get much better than this.
Two premiership heavyweights in Brisbane and Cronulla do battle with a vital top four spot potentially on the line. Both sides currently sit on 30 points and occupy third and fourth spots on the ladder respectively.
Brisbane will go into the game off their biggest ever away win after they put the cleaners through the Gold Coast Titans 54-0 at Robina.
Cronulla won’t be as high after they suffered an 18-point defeat at home to the surging Canberra Raiders.
HIGH POWERED ATTACK
BRISBANE’s offense clicked into gear last week against the Gold Coast and as such their 24.35ppg is now the best in the competition.
Wayne Bennett’s men began their run into the finals with a brilliant win and that was without tough-as-teak hooker Andrew McCullough. Ben Hunt slotted in beautifully to the number nine spot with Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford running riot in the halves.
While that seemed to work against a team on the way down and with nothing to play for, can it work against one of the better teams in the NRL who have designs on winning back-to-back premierships?
CRONULLA’s chances of winning get a massive boost here with James Maloney named to return from injury.
The NSW Blues five-eighth is a key part of the Sharks attack which has seemed to struggle over the past few weeks in his absence. Last week they managed just 12 points against the Raiders at Shark Park.
Maloney’s return will definitely give the Sharks plenty of confidence and we should see a far different outfit to the one that was handled by Canberra.
The concerning thing for the premiers is their dip in form with their two most recent wins being against teams outside the top eight (Warriors, Rabbitohs) and lack of consistency in the second part of season.
Brisbane won their encounter earlier this season at Shark Park 26-18.
That was back in Round 1 in a game they never looked likely to lose after getting the lead early.
Overall it has been the Sharks that have had the better of this clash with four wins from the past six while those six games, which stretch back to 2013, have mostly been tight affairs.
An average of 5.83 points has separated the teams during this span.
Centrebet are offering the best odds of a 1-6 Winning Margin for either side with $6 (Brisbane) and $7.50 (Cronulla) respectively.
We are going for value and tipping an upset in favour of the Sharks ($2.90 @ William Hill).
They haven’t had the best season by their standards but are still sitting in the top four for a reason and that is mainly due to their brilliant away record. Cronulla are 8-1 on the road in 2017.
Taking that into account you also have to remember that they have won three straight games at Suncorp.
It is inspirational skipper Paul Gallen’s 300th NRL game and you would think the boys would be up for giving their leader a game to remember on this milestone. Maloney’s return holds the key and we are willing to take the price about them should he play.
CRONULLA 1-12 WINNING MARGIN