Cronulla Sharks v Canberra Raiders Friday, July 20, 6pm Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sydney
The Sharks recorded an important win over the Panthers last week and only find themselves out of the Top 4 on for and against. Jesse Ramien has been named to return after missing the clash against the Panthers. The Raiders smashed the Cowboys 38-12 last week, but it came at a cost, with Jarrod Croker ruled out for the season due to a knee injury. Brad Abbey returns at fullback, with Michael Oldfield moving into the centres to replace Croker. Halfback Aidan Sezer has picked up a hamstring injury at training and looks set to miss the clash.
Recent FormCronulla are seventh on the ladder with an 11-6 record. They have won 9 of their last 11 and rank fifth in defence and seventh in scoring. The Sharks have not conceded more than 22 points in their last 11. Canberra are ninth on the ladder with an 8-9 record. The Raiders have won their last two and have posted 32 or more in three of their last four. Canberra have the second best attack in the NRL but rank a lowly 11th in defence.
Key MatchupMatt Moylan v Blake Austin: Matt Moylan was sensational in last week’s win over his former club – Penrith. He made three line-breaks, scored a try and set up another one in a brilliant all-round performance. Blake Austin looks set to move into the starting line-up for the injured Aiden Sezer, and will have a point to prove after starting the last two matches off the bench.
Stats That Matter– Cronulla are 8-9 ATS with a 10-7 under number while Canberra are 7-10 ATS with a 10-7 over number, riding a run of five straight overs. – The Sharks have won 5 of the last 7 matches against the Raiders though Canberra have won four straight at Shark Park, three by double digit margins. – Seven of the last eight matches have topped 40 points. – Cronulla are 18-26 ATS since 2015 at Shark Park, covering just four of their last 18 at the ground. – As a favourite at the ground they are 12-23 ATS (3 covers in their last 16) and 9-14 ATS when favoured by four or more points. – Cronulla are a shocking 1-13 ATS at Shark Park after scoring 24 or more points. – Canberra are 28-17 ATS with a 29-16 over record on the road with a 19-9 ATS record when an underdog on the road. – When on the road after scoring 30 or more points, Canberra are 12-3 ATS. – The Raiders have covered 13 of 20 night road games.
Final ThoughtsThe Wolf is tipping a close win to the Sharks here. They have won five of the last seven against the Raiders, while the Raiders are missing some key troops in Jarrod Croker, Shannon Boyd, Aidan Sezer, Josepeh Tapine and Jack Wighton. The Sharks love a grind and a victory by 1-12 points is the best play here.