NRL Match Preview: Key match-ups v Sharks
Wests Tigers vs Cronulla Sharks
HEAD TO HEAD: Played 22 - Wests Tigers 15, Cronulla 6, Drawn 1
AT SHARKS STADIUM: Played 10 - Wests Tigers 7, Cronulla 2, Drawn 1
LAST TIME: Round 9, 2013 - Cronulla 30 defeated Wests Tigers 6
BIGGEST HEAD TO HEAD WINS:
Wests Tigers 56 defeated Cronulla 10, 2009
Cronulla 32 defeated Wests Tigers 6, 2008
Aaron Woods vs Andrew Fifita
Origin teammates last week, Aaron Woods and Andrew Fifita return to opposite sides this Friday night at Shark Park. Both will be hoping to keep their spot in the NSW side when it is announced on Sunday.
Backing up just three days after making his Origin debut, Woods turned in another standout display against the Storm. Making 38 tackles, 20 hit-ups for 173 metres and three offloads, the prop was instrumental in the 22-4 victory over the Storm at Leichhardt Oval. With Keith Galloway missing the majority of the 2013 season through injury, Woods has stepped up, averaging over 140 metres per game.
Fifita has had a stellar 2013 season, highlighted with his call-up to the NSW Origin side. Standing at just under two-metres tall, Fifita will look to trouble his former teammates come Friday night. Coming off the bench last week against the Cowboys, Fifita made 28 tackles, 15 hit-ups for 115 metres and one offload. The Sharks enforcer is currently third on the Most Run Metres tally in the NRL, behind Greg Inglis and Kade Snowden.
Chris Lawrence vs Luke Lewis
In a surprise move to the centres, Sharks utility Luke Lewis will line-up against Chris Lawrence this week in what makes for an intriguing encounter.
While winger Tim Simona stole the show last weekend at Leichhardt Oval, Lawrence had arguably his best game of the year. Making 15 tackles, one line-break and 15 hit-ups for 117 metres, Lawrence looked dangerous in just his second game back from a hamstring injury. The experienced centre will come up against former teammates Beau Ryan and Chris Heighington for the first time after missing the Round 9 clash.
Lewis proves he is Mr Versatility again this week after being named in the centres by coach Shane Flanagan. Slotting in at pretty much every position over his 12-year career, the NSW Origin star replaces Ben Pomeroy in the backline. The former Panther last week made 28 tackles, one line-break and 17 hit-ups for 134 metres in his sides 24-4 loss to the Cowboys. Outside Lewis will be rookie winger Sosaia Feki, who scored a double last time the two sides met at Allianz Stadium.
Benji Marshall vs Todd Carney
With close to 350 NRL games between them, the clash of experienced halves Benji Marshall and Todd Carney will no doubt be a telling factor in the outcome of this match.
Last week against the Storm, Marshall looked back to his best. Perfect cut-out passes, the return of the famous Benji step and a very skilful try on the full-time siren were highlights as Marshall wowed the Leichhardt faithful. Marshall currently leads the Wests Tigers try-scoring tally, along with young gun David Nofoaluma, with five tries. Just eight games away from 200 NRL games, Marshall will reach the milestone in Round 25 if he plays all preceding games.
In a disappointing display by the Sharks last week against an out of form Cowboys side, Carney missed 11 tackles. However, Carney did set up his teams lone try, sending Lewis over in the 27th minute. Missing out on selection in the NSW Origin side, Carney has had an up and down year. In the Round 9 clash between the two sides, Carney terrorised the Wests Tigers back three with towering bombs. Finishing the game with two try-assists in the 30-6 victory, Carney will be one to watch this week.