The Sharks have hit some form mid season here with 3 wins on the trot, and surprisingly the Raiders are coming of back to backs over the last 2 weeks. So the winner here will continue their streak and the loser can kiss their season good bye. Both teams have had their wins against relatively easy opposition, so it’s a little hard to decide which side is better based on their recent wins. We will have to delve a little deeper to determine the victor here.
This is the first time the Sharks have are playing the Raiders at Toyota Stadium since Round 5 in 2009, and with the last 3 of the last 4 outings seeing the Raiders win it’s a welcoming sight for the Sharks to play at home. At Shark Park the record sits at 18-7 in favour of the home side, but hold on tight Sharks fans, the Raiders gave you a pant-sing in week 1 with a 40-12 shellacking.
Gallen had a screamer of a performance in Origin game 2 and backed it up with a brilliant showing against the Bulldogs the weekend after that match. He only played mediocre in game 3 though, so if he carries Origin form into this one it could spell trouble for the Sharks. Big Gal is an aggressive player and will want to bounce back after a dismal Wednesday night, and with the forward pack at full strength it will be good to see how well they can dominate in the middle of the park.
When they met in round 1 it was a one sided affair, the Raiders scoring all the points whereas the Sharks looked like they were there to simply make up the numbers. So with a forward pack including Snowden, Douglas, Smith and Gallen it will be good to watch them dominate. 3 of these are international representatives, Douglas being the exception, though IMO he is worthy of some rep footy as he is up there with Petero as the most reliable Front Rower in the competition.
I wouldn’t be writing off the Raiders straight away, they have managed to win 4 of their last 6 which is a massive improvement on their early season form where they lost about 30 in a row! With this recent form they are actually a chance of making the finals, but just like the Sharks they pretty much need this win to massively increase their chances with some tough opposition coming over the rest of the season.
The Raiders are missing some of their best players though, with Campese and Dugan still on the sidelines, as well as White and Learoyd-Lahrs. So can the ugly cousins from Canberra travel to Sydney and spoil the Sharks momentum? Sharks fans certainly hope not.
The Sharks were so impressive in the win against the Rabbitohs last week with 20 unanswered points in the first half. Even without Gallen they have proved they can play well, so if he pulls out I still like them. They have started games very well this year and will continue to do so, getting up by at least 8 at the full time buzzer.