NRL PREVIEW – Sharks v Dragons

NRL PREVIEW – Sharks v Dragons

Forget the form guide and disregard the fact both the Sharks and Dragons will arrive at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Sunday on the back of first round losses.

While the Sharks stumbled at what is possibly the NRL’s toughest road trip playing in the heat of Townsville in March, the St George Illawarra side had a difficult assignment of their own taking on the Storm in Melbourne, with the two teams losing no friends despite both coming away on the losing side of the ledger.

The Sharks emerged with a few positives if not the two competition points, with new recruit James Maloney satisfied with some aspects of his teams’ performance and not so thrilled with others.

“There were a lot of positives, I think the combination of me and Chaddy will take time to build, we were disjointed at times and we were good at other times. But we do need to improve,” Maloney said.

“But to go up there, against the Premiers and to go so close, we’ll definitely take some positives out of it.”

As the new number six went on to explain, the adjustments the Sharks need to make are minor ones rather than major changes to their structure and style.

“Our ability to turn sides away on our goal line, we let in three tries, so our goal line ‘D’ need to improve. Then there were times in attack we probably lacked players in motion, just little things but little things can make the difference,” Maloney added.

As for the derby, his former club the Roosters had a fierce rivalry with their cross-town neighbours and he expects the Sharks v Dragons clash to also offer something special come Sunday. 

“I’m looking forward to it. Everyone is telling me about the rivalry and how it’s got a bit of feeling to it,” Maloney said. “I always used to love the Roosters-Rabbitohs games and they tell me this is pretty similar.”

“I just hope we get the two points. We need to kick off the season and get going.”

To ‘get their season going’ the Sharks will need to be on their game against a Dragons side which showed a great deal of commitment in their two point loss to the Storm.

If only for a number of 50-50 refereeing decisions which went against them, the St George Illawarra boys could be turning up to Southern Cross Group stadium on the back of a win and on a high.

With attacking weapons such as Benji Marshall, Gareth Widdop and Josh Dugan, the Dragons are sure to keep the Sharks on their toes throughout the full 80-minutes of the match.

The Sharks themselves were spirited in the Cowboys loss and will also be confident of success on Sunday after drawing level with the defending premiers late in their first round match, only to be beaten by a 75th minute North Queensland try.

Ben Barba at fullback worked for the Sharks, as did Jack Bird in right centre position, with Coach Shane Flanagan sure to be hoping for even further improvement from two of his most dangerous attacking players.

The Sharks and Dragons will compete on Sunday for the Monty Porter Sports Foundation Cup, a trophy played for each year by the two local rivals.

Monty Porter, about who the annual Cup is played for, was a member of the all-conquering Dragons team of the late-1950’s and 1960’s, before switching to the Sharks in becoming their first-even first grade captain.

Porter would late become a long-term Sharks Football Club administrator, while he son Michael enjoyed a strong first grade career at the Sharks during the 1980’s.

The Sharks v Dragons NRL match is scheduled to get underway at 4.00pm, with the NYC clash to kick-off at 1.45pm.

 

Round 2 NRL Team List
Sharks v Dragons
Sunday, March 13
Shark Park
Kick-off 4.00pm

SHARKS
1.       Ben Barba
2.       Sosaia Feki
3.       Jack Bird
4.       Ricky Leutele
5.       Valentine Holmes
6.       James Maloney
7.       Chad Townsend
8.       Andrew Fifita
9.       Michael Ennis
10.   Sam Tagataese
11.   Luke Lewis
12.   Wade Graham
13.   Jayson Bukuya
Interchange
14.   Gerard Beale
15.   Matt Prior
16.   David Fifita
17.   Joseph Paulo

 

DRAGONS
1. Kurt Mann
2. Euan Aitken
3. Josh Dugan
4. Tim Lafai
5. Jason Nightingale
6. Gareth Widdop ©
7. Benji Marshall
8. Leeson Ah Mau
9. Mitch Rein
10. Russell Packer
11. Tyson Frizell
12. Will Matthews
13. Mike Cooper
Interchange
14. Ben Creagh
15. Jack de Belin
16. Dunamis Lui
17. Siliva Havili
18. Peter Mata’utia
19. Jake Marketo

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