Jake Granville | Colin Whelan ©NRLphotos

Cronulla Sharks v North Queensland Toyota Cowboy
Round 22, 2015 NRL Telstra Premiership
5:30pm, Saturday 8 August, Remondis Stadium

Referee: Matt Cecchin
Assistant referee: David Munro
Video referee: Steve Chiddy and Luke Phillips
Touch judges: Steve Carrall and Clayton Sharpe

TEAMS

Cowboys: 2nd on ladder (15 wins, 4 losses): 34 points (2 byes)
1. Lachlan Coote, 2. Matthew Wright, 3. Justin O’Neill, 4. Kane Linnett, 5. Antonio Winterstein, 6. Michael Morgan, 7. Johnathan Thurston, 8. Matt Scott, 9. Jake Granville, 10. James Tamou, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Ethan Lowe, 13. Jason Taumalolo. Interchange: 14. Rory Kostjasyn, 15. John Asiata, 16. Scott Bolton, 17. Ben Hannant, 18. Sam Hoare.

Sharks: 5th on ladder (11 wins, 8 losses): 26 points (2 byes)
1. Michael Gordon, 2. Sosaia Feki, 3. Gerard Beale, 4. Ricky Leutele, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Jack Bird, 7. Jeff Robson, 8. Chris Heighington, 9. Michael Ennis, 10. Sam Tagataese, 11. Anthony Tupou, 12. Wade Graham, 13. Paul Gallen (c). Interchange: 14. Ben Barba, 15. Matt Prior, 16. Tinirau Arona, 17. Jayson Bukuya, 18. Junior Roqica.

 

MATCH FACTS

• The Sharks were the last team to defeat the Cowboys with a 24-18 Round 16 result at 1300SMILES Stadium. Since then the Cowboys have reeled off four straight wins to remain in second place on the competition ladder. That win snapped North Queensland’s 11-game winning streak. The Sharks have also won their past four matches, and seven of their past eight.

• Aside from the Round 16 clash this season, recent matches between the two sides have included two wins by North Queensland last year – a 20-19 at 1300SMILES Stadium and a 36-18 triumph at Remondis Stadium. The Cowboys have won five of the past eight matches between the sides, and at least the last three played at Remondis/Toyota Stadium.

• The Sharks’ biggest win over the Cowboys came in 2000 at Toyota Park with a 42-6 result. The Cowboys enjoyed a 56-14 home win over the Sharks in 2005.

• Cronulla have the clear edge in head-to-head clashes with North Queensland winning 22 of 36 contests.

• Both teams concede an average of 19 points per game in season 2015, and have both conceded a total of 61 tries. The Cowboys have scored 76 tries this year to the Sharks’ 57.

• North Queensland score 54% of their tries from 0-20m out, while for Cronulla, this figure drops to 42%.

• The Sharks have scored just three long-range tries (51-100m out) this year compared to the Cowboys’ 12.

• The Sharks are a strong offloading team, averaging 11 a match in 2015 and are in the top five offloading teams in the competition over the past six weeks.

• Sharks hooker Michael Ennis loves getting his hands on the ball. He has the most receives of anyone in the competition with 20-39 to dat.

• Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote will expect plenty of fifth-tackle traffic to come his way on Saturday night. He is the league leader for kick receipts with 209.

• Sharks forward Wade Graham has the most chargedowns in the comp this year, with four, a number also held by his teammate Luke Lewis, who is not playing this weekend.

• The stats Cowboys hooker Jake Granville is mixing it with the very best out of dummy-half. He has 10 runs from dummy-half this year, bettered only by two of the game’s best current hooker in the Storm’s Cameron Smith (121) and South Sydney rake Isaac Luke (178).

• The Cowboys and Sharks hold the top four positions for tackles leading to turnover. Cowboys Johnathan Thurston and Michael Morgan have effected these potential match-turning plays 14 times apiece this year while Shark Michael Ennis and Cowboys Gavin Cooper have managed it 12 times each.


MATCH UPS – Jake Granville v Michael Ennis   

The match-ups between both teams’ hookers is shaping as a fascinating contrast of styles and personalities. Both men are arguably the two form No.9s in the competition, but they couldn’t be more different in the way they play the game, both the actual footy side and between the ears. Mild-mannered Granville lets his skills and speed do the talking, the former Intrust Super Cup star using his trademark acceleration to break the line from dummy-half to help set up his teammates. He is also a reliable middle defender who is among the Cowboys’ best week-in, week-out. Sharks hooker Ennis is the ultimate competitor, a smart ball player, crafty from dummy-half and not averse to a bit of niggle to gain the upper hand. He’s been a big part of the Sharks’ current strong form.


CASUALTY WARD

COWBOYS: Tautau Moga (knee) – indefinite.

SHARKS: Luke Lewis (knee) – Rd 23; Andrew Fifita (club susp.)/David Fifita (club susp.)/ Fa’amanu Brown (knee) – indefinite; Kyle Stanley (knee)/Jacob Gagan (Achilles) – season.


FINAL WORD

Paul Green:  “As we get towards the back end of the season, it’s about being consistent and playing your best footy at the back end of games.”

Ben Barba (on the Indigenous Round): “(This Round) means everything to me. It recognises my culture … who I am, what I am – a proud Aboriginal man.”