Cronulla Sharks circling to take another big victory
CRONULLA will be hunting another big scalp when it takes on premier South Sydney tonight in a match that could be a lot closer than betting suggests.
After upsetting the Roosters 20-12, with rookie five-eighth Jack Bird crossing for a double, the Sharks downed the previously unbeaten Newcastle 22-6 with Bird scoring another try.
South Sydney, on the other hand, got away with an 18-17 win against the Bulldogs thanks to a last-minute brain snap by Dogs skipper James Graham, before some flaws were exposed by an in-form Cowboys who beat them up 30-12.
That result, admittedly without premiership halfback Adam Reynolds, created doubt in some minds about the team's legitimacy to go back-to-back.
Bookmakers rate the Sharks $2.25 outsiders tonight, but at home, and buoyed by two very good wins, they will be fired up to stifle the Rabbitohs' attack with their spoiling defence.
Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has stuck with Bird ahead of the experienced Ben Barba at No.6, believing Barba gives the side more when he comes into the game fresh off the bench.
Barba, not required at the Broncos this year by coach Wayne Bennett after a disappointing 2014, said he wasn't concerned about playing second-fiddle to Bird (pictured).
"I like the freedom and the openness you get coming off the bench," said Barba, who admitted being a fan of young Bird.
Luke Keary and Glenn Stewart are expected to start in the halves for South Sydney, which is expected to regain centre Dylan Walker after breaking a hand in round three.