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NRL: Sharks look to pile more misery on Bulldogs

Cronulla Sharks will be looking to cement their place in the top eight when they take on the injury-ravaged Canterbury Bulldogs on Saturday.

Week 8 in the NRL goes into next week, with two games being played on Anzac Day, so the action has been spread over five days. 

It means there are just the two games this Saturday, but both are hugely important, and there should be plenty of excitement. 

We had another thriller on Thursday night as the Rabbitohs edged out the Panthers and we are hoping for more of the same on Saturday. 

In the late kick-off North Queensland Cowboys face the Newcastle Knights, and they are in desperate need of a win following a disappointing start to the campaign. 

The same can be said of the Bulldogs, who are 15th on the ladder, just one place above the Cowboys. 

There is the potential for both of these games to go right to the wire so let’s take a closer look at both match-ups.

Bulldogs missing key players

WhatCanterbury Bulldogs v Cronulla Sharks
WhereAccor Stadium, Sydney
When17:30 (AEST) Saturday 22nd April, 2023
How to watchKayo, Foxtel
OddsCanterbury Bulldogs 5.00, Cronulla Sharks 1.18

After a number of seasons battling at the bottom of the ladder, there were high hopes for the Bulldogs heading into the new NRL campaign. 

The appointment of Cameron Ciraldo as the new coach excited the fans, as did the arrivals of more big-named signings in the form or Reed Mahoney and Viliame Kikau. 

However, things have not gone to plan in the opening seven games, with the Bulldogs winning just three of them. 

It is fair to say that Ciraldo needs time to work his magic, while injuries have also robbed them of key players, but they would have been hoping to be further up the ladder by now. 

The Bulldogs have been thrashed in the last two games. South Sydney Rabbitohs beat them 50-16 in week six, while the Parramatta Eels won 30-4 last weekend. 

Ciraldo now needs a response from his threadbare squad on home soil against the Sharks and he will need his big players to step up. 

The likes of Josh Addo-Carr, Kikau and Jacob Kiraz are all long-term injury problems, but the Bulldogs still have enough quality to hurt the Sharks. 

Mahoney and Matt Burton will be key, along with bruising forward Tevita Pangai jnr. There is also some good news as Braidon Burns has recovered from a knee injury and will play on the wing.

Same again for Sharks 

The Sharks have had an indifferent start to the season but will take a heap of confidence from a rare 22-12 win over the Sydney Roosters last week. 

Playmaker Nicho Hynes was the star of the show in that game and is starting to hit form after missing the start of the season. 

He has produced five try assists in the three games he has played. Winger Ronaldo Mulitalo is also a big threat after scoring seven tries in his last five games and he can be backed at 1.65 to score anytime on Saturday.  

The Sharks have named the same 17-man squad that defeated the Roosters.

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Cowboys need a lift

WhatNorth Queensland Cowboys v Newcastle Knights
WhereQueensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
When19:35 (AEST) Saturday 22nd April, 2023
How to watchKayo, Foxtel
OddsNorth Queensland Cowboys 1.62, Newcastle Knights 2.30

The Cowboys were arguably the surprise package of the 2022 NRL season, but they have so far been unable to carry that on in 2023. 

They have managed just the two wins so far this season and sit second from bottom on the ladder, with only the win-less Wests Tigers below them. 

Todd Payten’s side have lost the last three games and are in need of a result to boost their confidence. Payten said he saw signs of improvement in last week’s loss to the Warriors, but they need to turn that into points. 

The Cowboys have been hit by the news Jason Taumalolo is facing six weeks on the sidelines with a knee injury so Reuben Cotter will replace him at lock. 

Jeremiah Nanai is loving his rugby in Townsville with the second-rower scoring nine tries in his last 11 games at QCB Stadium. He can be backed at 2.55 to score anytime against the Knights. 

Ponga back for Knights 

Newcastle will welcome back star playmaker Kalyn Ponga, who has been missing since round two with concussion. 

It is just the lift that the Knights need after losing on golden point to Penrith last week. Newcastle sit in 11th after winning three, drawing one and losing three of their seven games so far. 

They have improved on last season however and will fancy their chances in Townsville.

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