NRL confirm Rounds 9-12 venues
15 hours ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
A weird feeling will await the Sharks on Saturday night as they start their two-season sojourn at Kogarah, where they are set to take on the Melbourne Storm in front of... nobody.
The Sharks were looking to make their new home a fortress as they move to Jubilee Oval, but the Coronavirus pandemic has meant that their first game at their temporary digs will hold an unusual atmosphere with unfamiliar scenery and no fan support to get them home.
Cronulla started slowly last weekend against the Rabbitohs in their trip to ANZ Stadium, falling to a 22-18 defeat against the Bunnies - slipping behind early and unfortunately, they couldn't make the comeback.
They'll be disappointed with their defeat last week as they were able to match the Rabbitohs on the stats sheet, but they just lacked the ability to match the points of their opponents. Despite this, John Morris has named an unchanged 1-17 with cult hero Toby Rudolf keeping his spot on the bench.
Melbourne meanwhile put aside hostile and wet conditions last weekend as they took an 18-4 victory over Manly at Brookvale, keeping the Sea Eagles tryless through the match. They were only able to pull away from the hosts in the last twenty minutes, where they ran in three tries. The trip to Kogarah is the second stop in an all-Sydney opening fortnight for the Melbourne-based side.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy has also named an unchanged line-up from the 17 that took to the field last weekend, a 17 which had seen some late changes to the side that was originally named last Tuesday. Those changes have seen Nelson Asofa-Solomona named on the bench this weekend after being named in the reserves last weekend.
Last meeting: Round 17 2019 - Storm 40 Sharks 16
The two clashes between the sides in 2019 were split, as the Sharks took victory 20-18 in the first clash between the two, whilst mid-season the Storm were comfortable 40-16 winners at AAMI Park.
Who to watch: Josh Morris - the Sharks centre will link up with the Sydney Roosters next weekend, so his efforts in his final Sharks game will be something to watch. Morris was a strong performer in the 9s for the Sharks and had a solid game last weekend without being spectacular. Despite Morris leaving after this match, he will need to be a strong performer if the Sharks want to hold out the Storm.
Cameron Smith - The Storm captain wasn't far away from controversy during the week as he became one of a few players to say that he would prefer the competition be suspended rather than keep playing. There will be no doubt that Smith will give his 100% but the motivation will be something to watch of the veteran on what mode he plays in.
The favourite: The Storm go into the match as heavy favourites given their strength in recent years, as well as their performance last weekend against the Sea Eagles.
My tip: The lack of a crowd at the Sharks new home will be a severe disadvantage for them to start with, and the Storm have the momentum of a Round 1 victory heading into this weekend. Melbourne has better experience and looks to be stronger than the Sharks side. Storm by 12.
1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Morris 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 17. Scott Sorensen 12. Wade Graham 13. Jack Williams 14. Connor Tracey 15. Braden Hamlin-Uele 16. Toby Rudolf 18. Billy Magoulias
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Tui Kamikamica 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane 14. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui 15. Max King 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17. Tom Eisenhuth
Referees: Ashley Klein, Phil Henderson; Sideline Officials: Clayton Sharpe, Tim Alouani-Roby; Video Referees: Jared Maxwell, Bryan Norrie;