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Cronulla Sharks v Canberra Raiders
Saturday, August 5, 7:30pm (AEST) at Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sydney

The Raiders currently sit four points out of the Top 8 and need to keep winning to keep their finals hopes alive. They’ll be boosted by the returns of suspended duo Jordan Rapana and Josh Papalii. They’ll also have a point to prove after they were embarrassed by the Sharks 42-16 in Canberra earlier this season. The Sharks have struggled at home this year and will be hoping to end the Raiders season with a win in Cronulla on Saturday night. Jack Bird returns to the side, while Fa’amanu Brown has been named in the No.6 jersey again, with James Maloney still sidelined.

The Sharks have won four of the last five against the Raiders though the Raiders have won the last three at Shark Park. The Raiders were thumped 42-16 by the Sharks in Canberra at the beginning of the year. Sharks backrower Wade Graham scored a hat-trick in the emphatic win.

Cronulla sit third on the ladder with a 13-6 record and the second best differential in the NRL. The Sharks have won eight of their last 11 including two straight against Souths and New Zealand. The Sharks are just 5-5 at home this year. Cronulla have conceded 12 points or fewer in three of their last four. Canberra have won two of their last three and virtually have to win out if they are to play finals football. Those wins have come against the Dragons and Rabbitohs with a loss to the Storm in between. The Raiders have conceded 18-plus in six of their last seven matches. The Raiders surpassed 20 themselves for the first time in seven weeks against Souths.

Key Matchup
Paul Gallen v Raiders Forward Pack: Gallen has been rock solid for the Sharks this season and doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon. His experience for the Sharks during the Origin period proved invaluable and he’ll be a marked man by the Raiders pack, who he has some history with. Junior Paulo took on Gallen in the boxing ring, while Josh Papalii has had a running battle on the field with Gallen for the last few seasons. Expect fireworks in a must-win clash for the Green Machine!

Stats That Matter
– Cronulla are 8-11 ATS with an 11-8 under record while Canberra are 9-10 ATS with a 10-9 under number.

– The Sharks have won four of the last five against the Raiders though the Raiders have won the last three at Shark Park.

– Of the last 12 matches between the two teams, 10 have topped 40 points.

– Cronulla are 19-27 ATS at Shark Park since 2014 with a 27-19 under record, covering just two of their last 10 at the ground.

– Cronulla have covered just 10 of 27 night games at Shark Park since 2014

–  Canberra have covered just 3 of their last 9 matches but have covered 9 of their last 10 as an underdog and are 17-10 ATS as an underdog of 4.5 or more.

– Cronulla are 1-11 ATS at home after scoring 24-plus.

Final Thoughts
The Wolf thinks the +5.5 start for the Raiders looks generous. They’ve found some recent form and get two key troops back in Rapana and Papalii. An upset could be on the cards with the Raiders’ season on the line.

How It’s Shaping Up
Canberra by 2

Best Bet
Canberra +5.5 ($1.91)

Other Recommended Bets
Over 39.5 ($1.88)

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