There isn’t too much to say in this preview. Unless you’ve been living under a rock or are completely uninterested in league (in which case you probably won’t be reading this), you will know that the Sharks have been dismal all season.
They have won a total of five games (two in their last five), scored a total of 275 points (the lowest total in the league), and conceded a total of 481 (bettered only by the atrocious Canberra at 527 points).
Coming over to Mt Smart to face a Warriors team looking to strengthen their place in the top eight is no easy assignment. The Warriors have been a force at their home stadium. They have lost only one of five matches at Mt Smart, scoring 147 points and conceding only 70. While some questioned the Warriors’ credibility without star playmaker Shaun Johnson, they showed exactly what they can do by recording a 54 – 18 demolition of Canberra in round 21. The way that Chad Townsend, Thomas Leuluai, Dane Nielsen, Sam Tomkins, Manu Vatuvei, and Feleti Mateo (to only name a few) stepped up was impressive and should have provided some level of reassurance that there is enough depth in this side keep them in the top eight without Johnson.
While the Warriors will again be without Johnson, who is joined one the sidelines by Konrad Hurrell, and the Sharks will boosted by the return of Paul Gallen, I can only really see this game going one way. Warriors by 14 or more...possibly WAY more.
On a side note - keep an eye on Tuimoala Lolohea. This kid is the future! He gets his first start of the season on the wing alongside Ngani Laumape. Could prove to be a very exciting combination!