Powerful Sharks forward Andrew Fifita.
Powerful Sharks forward Andrew Fifita. JULIAN SMITH

Raiders to keep all-out attack for Sharks showdown

RUGBY LEAGUE: Canberra hopes to make a lie out of the old adage that defence wins games by continuing to produce its trademark razzle-dazzle attack in tomorrow's finals clash against a Cronulla side that has the late-season staggers.

While coach Ricky Stuart knows the importance of strong defence against the dangerous Sharks, he also knows his team plays an unbridled style of attacking football that is not only entertaining, but also very hard to stop.

Six weeks ago Cronulla had rugby league fans convinced that this may be its year as it charged to 16 consecutive wins to be leading all comers.

But since an 18-all draw in round 21 with the Gold Coast the Sharks have lost four of their past five games, three of them to teams that did not make the eight.

It's a real concern for coach Shane Flanagan that his side has conceded 100 points or 20 points per game in the last five matches heading into the finals.

In contrast, Canberra has piled on 176 points on its rivals and conceded 76.

Cronulla has the power in the forwards with Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita, Luke Lewis, Matt Prior, Wade Graham and the experienced Michael Ennis to lay a platform for James Maloney to work with match-winners Ben Barba and Valentine Holmes.

But it's hard to see the Sharks holding out the Green Machine, which has swept to 10 straight victories on the way to the finals.

Talented young fullback Jack Wighton will be a big threat after escaping suspension for a shoulder charge through the


The key for Cronulla is to start well and force Canberra away from the way it likes to play.

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