Big Guns Back For Sharks

Source: Getty Images/dailytelegraph.com.au
Paul Gallen returns for the Sharks against North Queensland. Source: Getty Images/dailytelegraph.com.au
Last 5 Meetings

Round 25, 2013 – North QLD Cowboys 31 d Cronulla Sharks 18 at Remondis Stadium
Round 16, 2013 – North QLD Cowboys 24 d Cronulla Sharks 4 at Townsville
Round 26, 2012 - North QLD Cowboys 36 d Cronulla Sharks 22 at Remondis Stadium
Round 4, 2012 - Cronulla Sharks 20 d North QLD Cowboys 14 at Townsville
Round 25, 2011 - North QLD Cowboys 28 d Cronulla Sharks 20 at Townsville

Current Form

  Rd 22    Rd 23    Rd 24    Rd 25    Rd 26 
Sharks

L

W

W

L

W

Cowboys

W

W

W

W

W


The Sharks  and Cowboys  lock horns for the second time in a fortnight when they meet in an elimination final at Allianz Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Playmaker Todd Carney didn’t feature in that match, which his side lost 31-18, but returns from a hamstring injury for this do-or-die clash, while four other big names return for the Sharks after sitting out last week’s victory in Canberra.

Skipper Paul Gallen will take his place at lock having served a one game ban for a crusher tackle on Scott Bolton the last time these sides met, while Wade Graham, Jason Bukuya and Anthony Tupou all return from injury. Andrew Fifita lasted only 23 minutes against the Raiders before hobbling off with a calf strain but has been named to start in the front row. Bryce Gibbs and Ben Ross have been added to an extended interchange bench as cover with several players returning from injury enforced layoffs.

Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott has been named at prop after breaking his finger when these sides met in round 25, with his return pushing Scott Bolton back onto the bench. The representative forward is the only addition to the squad that scored a club record equalling sixth straight win with Saturday night’s 50-22 victory over the Tigers.


1st Tryscorer

Young winger Sosaia Feki  has established himself as a key member of the Sharks side since getting the call-up against Newcastle in round eight and has bagged half a dozen tries in seventeen subsequent appearances. He opened the scoring against Canberra last weekend.

Antonio Winterstein  is the leading tryscorer for North Queensland this season with 13 four pointers from 23 first grade matches. He was one of six Cowboys players to get on the scoresheet against Wests in Townsville and will look to capitalise on the crafty work Matt Bowen and Jonathan Thurston have been doing in attack.


Prediction

The Cowboys were written off as finals hopes when they lost to Brisbane in round 20, but six straight wins see them entering the playoffs as the in-form team. They will be full of confidence going into this match having beaten the Sharks just two weeks ago, their seventh victory from the past nine matches between the pair. Cronulla will be strengthened by the return of several key men but haven't won a finals match since 2008 and will struggle to counter the momentum North Queensland built at the back end of the regular season. North Queensland Cowboys by 10

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