A top 4 showdown featuring two sides who have impressed over the opening 3 rounds of the competition, with the Cronulla Sharks hosting the Newcastle Knights on Friday night. The Sharks were mighty impressive last week in the local derby with the Dragons, blowing them out 36-12 in Wollongong. The Knights lost their first game of the season against the Panthers 38-20; however, they have been very impressive.
As always, stay tuned throughout the 2022 NRL season to get the best betting value when taking on the bookies, with our NRL Tips page previewing all the NRL matches in 2022. My best bets last week went 3-0 and we will be looking to get everyone some more winners throughout the season.
Cronulla Sharks vs Newcastle Knights
PointsBet Stadium, Friday 1st April, 6:00pm (AEDT)
1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Jesse Ramien 4. Siosifa Talakai 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Matt Moylan 7. Nicho Hynes 8. Toby Rudolf 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Braden Hamlin-Uele 11. Briton Nikora 12. Teig Wilton 13. Dale Finucane. INTERCHANGE: 14. Aiden Tolman 15. Cameron McInnes 16. Braydon Trindall 17. Andrew Fifita. RESERVES: 18. Mawene Hiroti 19. Jack Williams 20. Luke Metcalf 21. Royce Hunt 22. Lachlan Miller 23. Jenson Taumoepeau 24. Franklin Pele
1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Enari Tuala 6. Jake Clifford 7. Adam Clune 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Brodie Jones 13. Kurt Mann. INTERCHANGE: 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Jirah Momoisea 16. Leo Thompson 17. Sauaso Sue. RESERVES: 18. Simi Sasagi 19. Tex Hoy 20. Edrick Lee 21. Mathew Croker 22. Pasami Saulo 23. Dylan Lucas 24. Brayden Musgrove
Heading into the season, the general consensus on how much success each of these teams would have this year was very different. The Sharks had a great off-season, signing Nicho Hynes, Dale Finucane and Cam McInnes, whilst also bringing on new head coach Craig Fitzgibbon. The Knights on the other hand, were some “experts” favourites for the wooden spoon. They lost halfback Mitchell Pearce, there were question marks over the future of Kalyn Ponga, and they missed out on signing Luke Brooks, settling for Adam Clune.
Surprisingly, at least from the Knights point of view, what we have witnessed has been two of the more impressive teams over the early rounds of the competition, with both sides sitting inside the top 4 after 3 weeks. And despite the season being young, the performances from both must give their respective fan bases serious confidence that their sides can play finals football this year.
The Sharks are coming off two impressive performances in a row. Two weeks ago, they hosted Parramatta, where they snuck by the Eels 18-16 is a high-quality encounter. Last week, they braved the horrible conditions and hostile crowd to lap the Dragons 36-12. Their attack has been elite, averaging 7 line breaks per game to lead the NRL. The line breaks are leading to points, with the Sharks scoring 24.33 points per game, good enough for 3rd in the league.
The Knights started the season with a super impressive 20-6 victory over the Roosters at the SCG. They followed this up by dominating the Tigers, winning 26-4 in a game they probably could have won by 30+. Last week, they were giving as good as they got against the Panthers, leading 6-4 at the 34th minute mark. The game changed when Mitch Barnett put an absolute dog shot on Panther’s backrower Chris Smith. Barnett was sent from the field, leaving the Knights short one player for the remaining 46 minutes. They showed fight in the second half, scoring two tries and twice getting back within striking distance of the Panthers, but eventually it was all too much, with the Panthers running out 38-20 winners.
These two sides played twice last year, with the Knights winning both games. The Knights have won the previous 4 encounters between the sides, however, have not beaten the Sharks at PointsBet Stadium since 2014.
In team news, the Sharks lost Connor Tracey and Matt Ikuvalu to injury, with Siosifa Talakai shifting to the centres and Ronaldo Mulitalo returning on the wing. Teig Wilton returns in the back row, taking over from Talakai.
For the Knights, Kalyn Ponga is again named to return at fullback, pushing Tex Hoy out. Mitch Barnett has been suspended for 6 weeks, with Brodie Jones returning from Covid to start in the back row. Suaso Sue will make his season debut from the bench, coming in for Mat Croker.
I really rate the Sharks and they have looked immense in the first 3 weeks. Their attack has been phenomenal, and the play from Nicho Hynes has exceeded all expectations. Despite this, I have really liked what I’ve seen from the Knights to start the year. Their defence has aimed up and the forwards have done their job. I believe the Sharks will probably get the chocolates, but the 6.5 points spread is too much. I see this as a one possession game and like the Knights to cover the 6.5.
Despite the average points per game going up last week, I lean the under. The weather is predicted to be wet, and both these sides are solid defensively. Give me the under, with the Sharks squeaking out a 20-16 win.
Under 38.5 Points ($1.90 at BlueBet)
Newcastle Knights +6.5
$2.00 (1.5 Units)