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Sydney Roosters v Cronulla Sharks
Saturday, July 1, 3:00pm (AEST) at Central Coast Stadium

Central Coast Stadium will play host to this hotly anticipated top 4 battle. The Sharks luck finally ran out last week following a series of narrow wins while the Roosters got out of jail with a Mitchell Pearce field goal in golden point. The Wolf says not to be alarmed by sub-par performances from sides stacked with Origin starts at this time of the year but does note that the Sharks slow starts are a worrying sign. They have found themselves down by at least 12 in each of their last 3 and a repeat of that against the Roosters will be costly. The script is written for a huge response.

Cronulla have won 5 straight against the Roosters averaging just shy of 26ppg in that stretch. The half time margin has been no more than 6 points in the last 4 meetings but the Sharks have consistently been able to put on second half clinics – averaging 18 second half points in those games. The Sharks led 13-12 at half time in Round 25 last year but a 24-0 second half performance turned it into a rout. Forwards Gallen, Prior and Bukuya all got on the score sheet in what was a dominant display by the Sharks pack.

The Sydney Roosters went in big favourites against an understrength Storm team in Adelaide last weekend but needed golden point to win in an underwhelming performance. They remain second on the ladder with an 11-4 record. Cronulla are out of the Top 4 following an embarrassing loss at home to Manly, going down 35-18. The Sharks have now dropped two of their last three. They have a 10-5 record.

Key Matchup
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves v Andrew Fifita: As we have seen in the past with these sides  the team that wins the battle of the forwards tends to collect the to points. Fifita has been in rare form over the last 12 months and his match winning performances in the Grand Final and Origin I have shown that he is a man for the big stage. Hargreaves will not be taking a backward step here and has really upped his work rate in recent weeks with Napa and Cordner having Origin commitments. He has averaged 20 hit ups, 190m and close to 30 tackles in the last fortnight! Fifita was criticised for his performance backing up from Origin II but credit must be given to the Eagles. He was forced to make 40 tackles last week and it really took the sting out of his running game where he failed to run for 100m for the first time this season. Hargreaves and co will be looking to do much of the same.

Stats That Matter
– Sydney Roosters are 7-8 ATS with an 8-7 under record while Cronulla are 9-6 ATS with a 10-5 under record.
– Cronulla have won five straight against the Sydney Roosters and have posted 30-plus in three of those.
– Six of the last eight have tallied 40 or more points.
– The Roosters have covered just 1 of their last 5 at Allianz and have covered just 1 of 5 when favoured at the ground by less than a try.
– Cronulla are 12-5 ATS in road day games since 2014.
– Cronulla have covered 6 of their last 8 road games and 9 of their last 11 games as an underdog.

Final Thoughts
The Wolf is expecting a huge response from the Sharks this week. They were out-muscled and out-enthused last week but they can be excused with 5 players backing up from Origin. Cronulla have had the wood over the Roosters in recent seasons winning the last 5 meetings. The sharks have consistently won the forwards battle which has allowed them to then go wide and pile on the points. At a neutral venue it is surprising to see the Sharks start as underdogs. They are 12-5 ATS in road games since 2014. The Roosters have conceded 16 or more in 5 straight and The Wolf is predicting the Sharks to do a number on them.

How It’s Shaping Up
Cronulla by 16

Best Bet
Cronulla +2 ($1.91)

Other Recommended Bets
Cronulla 13+ ($5.50) 

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