The Cronulla Sharks and New Zealand Warriors clash on Sunday and there is pressure on both teams to perform.
New Zealand has lost four games on the bounce, including two in golden point extra time. It has been a rough patch for the Kiwis, but the return of Reece Walsh is the boost it needs.
The Sharks are favorites with the online sportsbook, but there could be an upset in the making.
Warriors Helped By Reinforcements
New Zealand needs a shot in the arm and getting the likes of Walsh and Kodi Nikorima in the lineup is a positive.
Former Sharks playmaker Chad Townsend suffered a shoulder injury in the 19-18 loss to St George last week, but Nikorima’s inclusion is good timing. He will provide some spark with the ball in hand, but the biggest inclusion is Walsh.
— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) July 2, 2021
The teenager was meant to make his State of Origin debut for Queensland but an injury ruled him out. Prior to his late withdrawal from the Maroons, former Queensland skipper Jonathan Thurston had only positives to say.
“His eagerness to learn – he’s always asking about video and film type of stuff. He’s always asking questions as well,” Thurston told Nine Sports. “No doubt he’s a confident young kid and we need to be able to put him in situations in the game where he feels at his most comfortable and at his best.
“This week he’s been really impressive. I’m really excited to see what he can do on the back of our forwards laying a platform and our halves giving him some ball in the right spaces.”
The Warriors are desperate for success after slipping further down the NRL ladder. They lost three games by a combined total of six points, and losing close games becomes tiring.
Rugby league betting markets have the Warriors at +150. It’s a value price for a team in desperation mode.
Sharks’ Winning Streak Ends
After beating the likes of the Dragons, Titans, Panthers and Cowboys, expectations had risen for the Sharks. However, last week’s loss to Brisbane came out of left field.
The Broncos are one of the worst teams in the NRL and it was a game the Sharks should have won, but consistency has always been a problem. They have a knack of producing a poor performance, which is always a head scratcher.
They looked good when beating the Penrith Panthers 19-18. The Panthers were without their Origin players, but the Sharks did well to hold off a second-half surge and kick a late field goal to seal the victory.
Once a Warrior. Always a Warrior.
Shaun Johnson reveals how his dream of becoming a @NZWarriors player again became a reality & reveals he has “unfinished business” as he prepares to head home in 2022
— Zac Bailey (@ZacBailey14) July 2, 2021
Wins like that should galvanize this unit and they will feel confident about beating the Warriors. Andrew Fifita and Will Chambers are back in the side, which bolsters up their forwards and backline.
It’s a strong middle with the likes of Jesse Ramien and Chambers. They also have former Warrior and future Warrior Shaun Johnson running the ship in the halves. Johnson leaves the Sharks to return to the Warriors in 2022, so it will be an interesting dynamic on Sunday.
Sharks vs Warriors Betting Trends
The Sharks have a 23-15 edge over the Warriors, including 46-10 and 22-14 wins last season.
It was a rough season for the Warriors, so we’re not surprised at the recent dominance of the Sharks. However, the Warriors are better this year and the statistics aren’t too dissimilar.
The Warriors have scored 305 points and allowed 376, whereas the Sharks have scored 296 and allowed 348. There is more offensive potency with the Warriors, who will rely on the brilliance of Walsh and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Tackle efficiency trends in favor of the Warriors, and the Sharks only have a 12-25 record at the venue.
Sharks vs Warriors Pick
Bettors get a +5½-point start with the Warriors, but we’re prepared to take them in moneyline markets.
After some narrow defeats, they will be wanting to get back in the winning column and the Sharks are there for the taking.
New Zealand has an ability to dig deep when needed and it doesn’t get more important in Round 17, with the playoffs getting closer.
Take the value with the Kiwi-based side.