NRL Betting Preview: Expect a tight encounter between Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and North Queensland Cowboys

The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks will play the defending premiers North Queensland Cowboys on Friday evening at the Allianz Stadium with a place in the Grand Final at stake.

Recommended bet: Under 37.5 points @ 23/25 (1.92) with Luxbet

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks and defending premiers North Queensland Cowboys meet on Friday evening at the Allianz Stadium with a place in the Grand Final at stake.

The Sharks were dismantled 39-0 by the Cowboys in last year’s Semi-finals and will be desperate to make amends in this year’s Preliminary Final.

Cronulla are chasing the club’s first-ever Premiership, but first need to break a run of six straight losses in Preliminary Finals if they are to even make the Grand Final.  The Sharks have lost at this stage in 1988 (9-2 to Balmain); 1996 (24-0 to Manly); 1999 (24-8 to St George Illawarra; 2001 (18-10 to Newcastle); 2002 (16-10 to Warriors) and 2008 (28-0 to Melbourne).    

The Sharks were 13-10 victors when the teams last met at Shark Park in round 14, with the Cowboys running out 20-14 winners at the 1300SMILES Stadium when the pair met in round 1.  

With regards to team news, the Sharks welcome back Paul Gallen at lock.  The Cowboys recall Kane Linnett to their backline, with Kalyn Ponga making way.

The other decisive factor in this match could be the team’s respective paths to this stage of the competition in the finals series.  

The Sharks won just one of their final six matches in the regular season to eventually finish third in the table, but have had a week’s extra preparation after seeing off the Raiders 16-14 in Canberra in their Qualifying finals.  That was a big victory in terms of character, as the Raiders went into the game on a 10-match winning streak.

North Queensland finished fourth in the regular NRL Premiership table and after a 16-10 loss to Melbourne Storm in their Qualifying finals, the Cowboys had to call upon all their powers for a come-from-behind extra-time win over Brisbane Broncos at the Semi-finals stage.

It’s a difficult game to call, with the Sharks being the fresher, but having that big psychological factor to overcome.  The Cowboys have the extra class, but they come into this on the back of two exhausting clashes.  As with the two matches in the regular season, this is likely to be a tight and low-scoring affair.