The Sharks had their worst defensive game for 2019 last round - letting in 24 points from the Eels - but now face the side with the best attacking record so far in the Sydney Roosters.
Injuries are starting to infiltrate Cronulla's ranks, which is never a good sign. Two key members of the spine in fullback Matt Moylan and five-eighth Shaun Johnson were missing against Parramatta, and then the side lost Aaron Woods (foot), who will now have an extended stint on the sidelines.
Perhaps they need to take a feather from the Roosters nest. They had winger Brett Morris, hooker Jake Friend and prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves missing for the Broncos and still pummelled them 36-4.
And does any side have an answer for containing James Tedesco at fullback or interchanging half Luke Keary, who has shown he's as adept at No.7 as he is at his regular No.6 role?
Perhaps the rabid Cronulla crowd might be a good 18th man for the Sharks to employ on Saturday as the Roosters seem to have perfected the art of player diversity and versatility.
Match: Sharks v Roosters
Round 5 -
Venue: PointsBet Stadium, Sydney
- LIVE PASS
Sharks: Five-eighth Shaun Johnson (quad) is back but skipper Paul Gallen (ribs) is a late withdrawal with Jack Williams moving into the starting side in No.16. Braden Hamlin-Uele is promoted to the bench. Kyle Flanagan, who came in for Johnson last week, is out of the side. Jayson Bukuya reverts to the bench after starting last week for Gallen. William Kennedy and Aaron Gray were the two players omitted 24 hours before kick-off.
Roosters: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves will miss another week after being withdrawn from the squad 24 hours out from kick-off. Zane Tetevano (No.15) moves into the starting side. Waerea-Hargreaves and Lachlan Lam were the two players to drop out 24 hours before game time and Sam Verrills and Sitili Topouniua were omitted an hour before kick-off.
Fullback for Sharks is number 1 Josh DuganFullback for Roosters is number 1 James Tedesco
Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sosaia FekiWinger for Roosters is number 2 Daniel Tupou
Centre for Sharks is number 3 Bronson XerriCentre for Roosters is number 3 Latrell Mitchell
Centre for Sharks is number 4 Josh MorrisCentre for Roosters is number 4 Joseph Manu
Winger for Sharks is number 5 Sione KatoaWinger for Roosters is number 5 Matt Ikuvalu
Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Shaun JohnsonFive-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Luke Keary
Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Chad TownsendHalfback for Roosters is number 7 Cooper Cronk
Prop for Sharks is number 8 Andrew FifitaProp for Roosters is number 15 Zane Tetevano
Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Jayden BraileyHooker for Roosters is number 9 Victor Radley
Prop for Sharks is number 10 Matt PriorProp for Roosters is number 10 Siosiua Taukeiaho
2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Boyd Cordner
2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Kurt Capewell2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Angus Crichton
Lock for Sharks is number 16 Jack WilliamsLock for Roosters is number 13 Isaac Liu
Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Blayke BraileyInterchange for Roosters is number 14 Lindsay Collins
Interchange for Sharks is number 15 Jayson BukuyaInterchange for Roosters is number 16 Poasa Faamausili
Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Scott SorensenInterchange for Roosters is number 17 Mitchell Aubusson
Interchange for Sharks is number 20 Braden Hamlin-UeleInterchange for Roosters is number 18 Nat Butcher
The Brailey brothers, Jayden and Blayke, and whoever plays hooker for the Roosters. Jake Friend (shoulder) is no certainty to return and Victor Radley will need his wits about him again to keep feeding his middle with a very mobile pack of Sharks back rowers on his tail in Briton Nikora, Kurt Capewell, Scott Sorensen and Jack Williams. They made nine tackle breaks between them against the Eels.
For the Sharks to win
They need to quieten the Roosters halves as they are the major voices in attack. So Andrew Fifita and Matt Prior need to play the games of their lives, especially their trademark quick play-the-balls so the Roosters rhythm is thrown off-kilter and regularly.
For the Roosters to win
Hand the ball to Keary and Cooper Cronk as often as possible. They organise the sets so quickly and so well that oppositions almost need eyes in the sides of their heads to work out where the next danger is coming from. And then there's James Tedesco, who has led the competition for the past two weeks in line breaks.
Brett Kimmorley says
In 40 minutes last week the Roosters showed us that they are the benchmark. The key here is their play-the-ball speed. For Cronulla there are injuries, they are lacking middle forward depth. It will be a massive challenge to try and prevent Latrell Mitchell, Luke Keary and Cooper Cronk from having plenty of time with the ball. Roosters by 6
Sharks Stat Attack
The Sharks are the leading team in line breaks (19) and equal-first in line break assists (12). On the negative side they have penalised more than any team in the competition (37).
Roosters Stat Attack
The ever-elusive Tedesco leads the NRL in tackle breaks (25) and is equal-first in line breaks (5), while Keary is always quick to sniff out a break, leading the league in support play (80). Mitchell has conceded an NRL-high nine penalties.
And another thing ...
Is there a part of Josh Dugan's body that hasn't been clobbered? Throughout his career he's had knee, elbow, ankle, fractured cheekbone, concussion and hamstring niggles. But he had another head knock in the Parramatta game and the recurrence of a lower back injury. He once said it took around 40 minutes to get all his pre-game strapping done - and we can see why.