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globalrugbyleague - Sun, 20 May 2007 10:21:00 GMT
A full strength Sharks tackle a Bulldogs team out of form and without State of Origin stars Willie Mason and Andrew Ryan.

The Bulldogs this year have been like the weather - hot as fire one week - cold as ice the next. They haven't won two games in a row.

The GRL Phantom reckons they have six weeks to start hitting their straps or they can't be considered a genuine threat.

The best three teams this year clearly are Melbourne, Manly and Cowboys _ the premiers in 2007 will come from one of these three _ I will elaborate in my half-yearly report card in the next few weeks.

But the Bulldogs and Sharks are two teams capable of being in finalists, perhaps ``bolters'' for the title.

I like the 2007 version of the Sharks and they will make the eight.

BULLDOGS

Weaknesses

Their weakness is dummy -half play.

Forget all the theories and post-mortems when the Dogs lose matches, their forwards didn't ``bash em '' properly this week.

The reason for the inconsistent form is the variety and zip around the play-the-ball.


The Dogs, along with Penrith are chasing Craig Wing hard and the reason? He's sharp and incisive around the rucks.

The Dogs' dummy halves Corey Hughes and Adam Perry are solid, honest and good footballers but they lack the zip and don't ``bring their forwards onto the ball at “speed'' at times, because they are stationery when they pass the ball.

Watch Danny Buderus and Robbie Farah. They move forward, engage the markers in defence and prise open holes with their running and passing games.

The other problem recently for the Dogs is ``sideways” drift.

Reni Maitua, an outstanding player, occasionally can drift down the left or right hand side of the field, as well as Andrew Ryan and ``run the outside runners'' out of space, near the sideline.

Strengths

They love the siege mentality and when in the mood the Dogs' forwards belt you without any compassion, gang tackle and they run hard, straight and over the top of you.

Canterbury love being the ``underdog'' and this week coach Steve Folkes will call upon all their mongrel without Ryan and Mason.

CRONULLA:

Strengths

Ricky Stuart and Des Hasler are the joint-leaders for coach of the year.

Stuart has made the Sharks the best defensive team in the league, statistically and technically, along with Manly and Melbourne, with a tremendous defensive alignment.

The Sharks individually and collectively miss few tackles.

Big centres Ben Pomeroy and Frazer Anderson (who play left and right sides respectively) guard the edges of the field well.

The back row of Greg Bird, Paul Gallen and Lance Thompson - all unlucky not to be in Origin next Wednesday, are trojans in defence, old fashioned tough nuts, also prominent in attack.

Weaknesses

The Sharks do start matches slowly, so too to the Bulldogs.

When they get behind in games Brett Kimmorley and Adam Dykes tend to overplay situations and do too much in attack, there will be a poor kick, they can kick out on the full, over the dead ball line or even throw a wild pass.

I like the Sharks at full strength this week to win by six points.

Last year the Sharks lost to the Dogs at Telstra Stadium as the Dogs had four players on origin duty.

Verdict:

Sharks by six, watch for a big game from Willie Tonga (Bulldogs) to remind Queensland selectors and Brett Kimmorley (Sharks). - Read More, Here