Match Preview: Wests Tigers vs Cronulla Sharks

Having delivered a strong performance to defeat the Penrith Panthers in their previous trial match, the Wests Tigers will no doubt be looking to pick up where they left off when they take on the Cronulla Sharks at Remondis Stadium this Saturday.

The match is the final trial match for the club before the start of the 2014 NRL season commences, and as such, Head Coach Mick Potter has named a strong squad to take on last year’s semi-finalists — despite the absence of several players due to injury.

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Young halfback Luke Brooks will make his much-anticipated return from injury this weekend, having not played for the club since the NYC finals series last season. He’ll be joined in the halves by veteran five-eighth Braith Anasta, while captain Robbie Farah returns from a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined against the Panthers.

Read on for a full preview of the match including all the key details, lineups and analysis.

Match Details
Date: Saturday, 22nd February, 2014
Time: 7:00pm AEDT (Gates open at 11:45am)
Venue: Remondis Stadium, Cronulla

Ticket Information
Tickets can be purchased via Ticketek, with tickets ranging from $20 for an adult ticket to $45 for a family of four. Wests Tigers advise against purchasing tickets on the night in order to avoid disappointment or inconvenience.

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TV and Radio Coverage
No live coverage is provided via TV or radio. Wests Tigers will provide live updates via their Twitter account (@Wests_Tigers) as well as post-match highlights and interviews.

Confirmed Squads
Cronulla Sharks
1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Jonathan Wright 4. Blake Ayshford 5. Eric Grothe Jnr 6. Daniel Holdsworth 7. Jeff Robson 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Tim Robinson 11. Wade Graham 12. Matt Prior 13. Sam Tagataese (Interchange: 14. John Morris 15. Siosaia Vave 16. Tinirau Arona 17. Tupou Sopoaga 18. Nathan Stapleton).

Wests Tigers
1. James Tedesco 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Keith Lulia 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Pat Richards 6. Braith Anasta 7. Luke Brooks 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Martin Taupau 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Cory Paterson 13. Adam Blair (Interchange: 14. Blake Austin 15. Ben Murdoch-Masila 16. Jack Buchanan 17. James Gavet).

2013 Season: Whey They Met
Round 9: Cronulla Sharks 30 def. Wests Tigers 6
A dominant second-half performance from the Sharks saw them defeat the Wests Tigers at Allianz Stadium early in the year, with the visitors running in four second half tries to nil to earn a 24-point victory. Matt Utai crossed early for the home team before former Wests Tigers forward Andrew Fifita leveled the match shortly after — locking the match at 6-6 heading into half-time. Cronulla would run in three tries in seven minutes after the break to blow out the score, though, with winger Sosaia Feki grabbing a late double to push the score out to 30-6 in the end.

Round 17: Cronulla Sharks 36 def. Wests Tigers 22
A back-and-forth match at Remondis Stadium saw the Cronulla Sharks win an entertaining match that featured 10 tries by 14 points, as Andrew Fifita again returned to haunt his former club. First half tries to Wade Graham, Nathan Stapleton, Luke Lewis and Fifita gave the hosts a commanding 24-0 lead heading into the break, but the visitors soon responded and threatened to pull off a very unlikely comeback. James Tedesco, Bodene Thompson and Tim Simona all crossed to reduce the gap to eight points in the second half, but when Chris Lawrence was controversially disallowed a try with just over 10 minutes remaining, the hosts were able to hang on for the win. Fifita crossed late in the match for his second try to restore the 14-point margin.

Key Players to Watch
James Tedesco, Wests Tigers
The star for the Wests Tigers throughout an otherwise disappointing Auckland Nines campaign, James Tedesco again looms as a key player to watch for in the Wests Tigers’ squad this weekend. Coming off a strong showing against Penrith (where he threw the final pass for two tries), Tedesco tore open the Sharks over the weekend in Auckland with his blistering pace and strong cover-defence, and if he can continue that form this weekend, he’ll certainly create plenty of problems for Cronulla at both ends of the field.

Daniel Holdsworth, Cronulla Sharks
With Todd Carney sidelined due to a hamstring injury, Daniel Holdsworth comes into the squad this weekend for Cronulla with big shoes to fill. The former Hull FC half was brought into the team this season largely to provide competition for Jeff Robson in No. 7 jersey but he’ll don the No. 6 shirt this weekend instead — a change that he’ll certainly still be comfortable in making. Cronulla have big wraps on the 29-year-old’s playmaking ability, and it’ll be a fascinating to see whether the Wests Tigers’ forward pack can apply good pressure on him throughout the night and disrupt his rhythm or not.

Cory Paterson, Wests Tigers
Having moved from the UK back to Australia this summer, Cory Paterson has quickly started to gain a big reputation at the Wests Tigers. The hulking back-rower earned himself a bench spot against Penrith last fortnight — a match where he bagged himself a try — and then followed that up with a strong showing at the Auckland Nines. An injury to Curtis Sironen in that tournament sees Paterson named in the starting team this weekend where he’ll certainly have his fair share of challenges. The likes of Andrew Fifita and Wade Graham got the better of the Wests Tigers’ pack both times last season, but Paterson will be out to try and turn that battle the way of the visitors here. Look for his strong running off a short ball close to the line to be a big factor this weekend.

Matchday Details
Gates open at 11:45am on the day, with five grades scheduled in the afternoon. Harold Matthews will kick off at 12:15pm, followed by SG ball at 1:45pm. NYC will take the field at 3:30pm followed by NSW Cup at 5:15pm, and then NRL at 7:00pm.

Getting to the Game
CAR: Remondis Stadium is located along Captain Cook Drive, with on-site parking available. Best route to the ground is via the Princess Highway.
TRAIN: Trains run frequently to Cronulla Station on Saturday night, but the best station to get off at is Woolooware, and then walk along Woolooware Road. Buses are also available to the ground from Cronulla Station (Crodyon Street).