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Canberra rested almost their entire first grade side last weekend and still beat the Sharks team they will face again in Saturday's elimination final.

Add to that the fact the Sharks haven't beaten another top-eight side all season and the form line isn't great for John Morris's team.

But, such is the nature of sport, Cronulla will enter Saturday's elimination final at GIO Stadium knowing a fast start will boost their confidence levels and put some doubt in the minds of a Raiders side widely expected to win.

Canberra's 14-6 record during the home-and-away season meant they only missed out on a top-four finish on account of points differential.

The rundown

Team news

Raiders: Sia Soliola will start with Dunamis Lui coming off the interchange.  Second-rower John Bateman (elbow), fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (ribs), winger Jordan Rapana (knee) and halfback George Williams (head knock) have recovered from minor injuries and will play. 

Centre Jarrod Croker, five-eighth Jack Wighton, second-rower Elliott Whitehead, prop Josh Papalii and lock Joe Tapine are also back after a rest. Forwards Hudson Young and Corey Harawira-Naera have gone to the bench alongside Sia Soliola and Siliva Havili.

Kai O'Donnell, Darby Medlyn, Jarrett Subloo and the injured Ryan Sutton (knee) have dropped off the interchange. 

Sam Williams and Matthew Timoko were omitted from the squad on game day after O'Donnell and Michael Oldfield dropped out 24 hours before kick-off.

Sharks: Toby Rudolf starts with Aaron Woods to come off the bench. 

Halfback Chad Townsend will return from suspension with winger Sione Katoa (leg) and centre Josh Dugan (knee) will come back from minor injuries. Hooker Blayke Brailey, lock Toby Rudolf and bench forward Siosifa Talakai are also back after a rest.

Wade Graham has returned to the back row from five-eighth, while Scott Sorensen has dropped to the bench and Nene Macdonald, Mawene Hiroti, Teig Wilton, Billy Magoulias and Daniel Vasquez are all out.

Braydon Trindall and Bryson Goodwin were the first two players cut from the squad on Friday and Teig Wilton and Mawene Hiroti dropped out an hour before kick-off.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
    Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William Kennedy
  • Winger for Raiders is number 2 Semi Valemei
    Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
  • Centre for Raiders is number 3 Jarrod Croker
    Centre for Sharks is number 3 Josh Dugan
  • Centre for Raiders is number 4 Jordan Rapana
    Centre for Sharks is number 4 Jesse Ramien
  • Winger for Raiders is number 5 Nick Cotric
    Winger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
  • Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Jack Wighton
    Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Connor Tracey
  • Halfback for Raiders is number 7 George Williams
    Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Chad Townsend

Forwards

  • Prop for Raiders is number 8 Josh Papalii
    Prop for Sharks is number 8 Braden Hamlin-Uele
  • Hooker for Raiders is number 9 Tom Starling
    Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
  • Prop for Raiders is number 15 Iosia Soliola
    Prop for Sharks is number 13 Toby Rudolf
  • 2nd Row for Raiders is number 11 John Bateman
    2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
  • 2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
    2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Wade Graham
  • Lock for Raiders is number 13 Joseph Tapine
    Lock for Sharks is number 14 Siosifa Talakai

Interchange

  • Interchange for Raiders is number 10 Dunamis Lui
    Interchange for Sharks is number 10 Aaron Woods
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 14 Siliva Havili
    Interchange for Sharks is number 15 Scott Sorensen
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 16 Hudson Young
    Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Andrew Fifita
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 17 Corey Harawira-Naera
    Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Jack Williams

Match Officials

  • Referee: Grant Atkins
  • Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
  • Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
  • Senior Review Official: Jared Maxwell

Last updated:

Key match-up

Josh Papalii v Aaron Woods. Papalii is the Maroons and Test prop, Woods was once the Blues and Test prop. If Woods is able to wind back the clock and match it with the highly-impressive Papalii, the Sharks can go from there.

If big Papa causes havoc in the middle of the park it could be a long night for Cronulla.

Stat attack

Of the sides in the finals, the Sharks conceded the most points - by quite a distance. In 20 matches they had 480 (24 per match) scored against them. The Raiders allowed 317 (15.85 per match).