Wigan Warriors vs Cronulla Sharks
Competition: World Club Series
Date: Sunday 19th February 2017
Venue: DW Stadium, Wigan
Kickoff: 16:00 CET
After breaking a 53-year drought and recording their first ever premiership Cronulla will be out in 2017 to prove they can continue to excel, despite losing some key pieces to their roster. Whereas, Wigan have added some serious talent to their already formidable roster, in the forms of Joe Burgess – home from a brief mixed NRL stint with the Roosters and Rabbitohs- and Thomas Leuluai the veteran NZ playmaker.
Wigan got the better of an improved Salford outfit in their opening round fixture, as they ran out to a 26-0 halftime lead, only to see that margin dwindle to 10 in the 2nd forty. Cronulla had a rather tumultuous offseason losing Ben Barba to Rugby Union, after some drug related issues, and as expected Michael Ennis hung up his boots, leaving a huge role to fill.
Cronulla, will now look to install young Kangaroos representative Valentine Holmes as their custodian, though he is unavailable for this clash due to injury, leaving Beale as the likely fullback. It would appear as though, Daniel Mortimer and Fa’amanu Brown are in-line to battle for the hooking duties for this one, with Manaia Cherrington left at home.
Wigan Warriors vs Cronulla Sharks: Head to Head Stats
These teams have not met in recent times, thus there is not many stats which have much meaning for this encounter. It is worth noting though, the plethora of experience amongst the veterans on both sides of the half-way line, with NSW stalwart Paul Gallen and 2-time premiership winner Chris Heighnington for the Sharks. While, Wigan has experienced back-rower O’Loughlin, Leuluai and former Rooster Frank Paul Nuu’ausala who are all veterans, with loads of winning prowess amongst them.
Wigan Warriors vs Cronulla Sharks: Prediction
Wigan will improve as the year goes on, particularly as Sam Tomkins and Joe Burgess find their best form, whereas Cronulla are a little short on their fast men out wide in this clash. The Sharks will rely heavily on the likes of Gallen, Graham, Lewis and Bird to create the time and space for their mercurial halves, Maloney and Townsend. Maloney had a career best year last season and if he finds that sort of form in this one, Cronulla will be too good.
Overall, expect Wigan to really challenge the Sharks as their season is further advanced, and Cronulla has a lot of figuring out to do, particularly in the rake-role without Ennis. But, with such a strong group of current NSW representatives, they should have enough in the tank to take home the trophy. The Warriors home ground advantage is distinct, though many of the Sharks leadership group are familiar with English conditions and will look to mentor the youngsters through this challenge successfully.
Wigan Warriors vs Cronulla Sharks: Tip
- Cronulla to eventually overhaul the Warriors and win by 8.
- Damaging runs from Lewis, Gallen and Graham all game.