Full-time: SYDNEY ROOSTERS 40 (B Cordner 2 M Aubusson J Friend S Kenny-Dowall S Moa D Tupou tries J Maloney 6 goals) bt CRONULLA 0 at Allianz Stadium. Referees: Matt Cecchin, Henry Perenara. Crowd: 13,706.
79 min: The Sharks go close to finally getting on the board but Bukuya's pass to an unmarked Nathan Stapleton travels forward. That sums up their night.
74 min: He's a great competitor Fifita, he's shrugged off the injury and returned to the field!
70 min: They may be 40 points ahead but the Roosters continue to be brutal in defence. The Sharks just can't find a way through.
65 min: Michael Jennings' troublesome ankle looks to be playing up. He's left the field too.
63 min: The Sharks' injury toll could be about to become a whole lot worse as Fifita limps off.
60 min: Roosters hit 40 after Mitch Aubusson beats Carney then Michael Gordon to score between the posts. Maloney converts. ROOSTERS 40-0.
57 min: The Sharks come up empty again after another raid on the Roosters' line.
50 min: Prop Sam Moa is off the nude run, crashing over for his first try of the season - against his former club too. Maloney makes no mistake with the kick and you'd think the Sharks are only playing for pride now. ROOSTERS 34-0.
49 min: Not the happiest night for Andrew Fifita, who has conceded several penalties and hasn't mader his usual impact.
45 min: First five minutes have been something of arm wrestle. The Sharks need to chance their arm more to have any hope of mounting a fightback. One thing's for sure, they need to be next to score.
Here's how Fairfax reporter Michael Carayannis saw the first half:
Mitchell Pearce, wow. Where was this a couple of nights ago when the whole of NSW was waiting for it? Regardless, Pearce and Boyd Cordner have sprung to life in a complete 40-minute performance. Props Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Luke O’Donnell were outstanding in a strong 29-minute stint. Injuries have crippled the Sharks, whose line speed is almost non-existent.
Sharks v Eels would have been interesting tonight. #NRL — Andrew Voss (@AndrewVoss9) July 20, 2013
39 min: He was in tears on Wednesday night but he's all smiles tonight. Pearce puts Cordner over again with an exquisite flat cut-out pass. Maloney converts and the Roosters go into the half-time break five-tries-to-nil leaders and receive a standing ovation. ROOSTERS 28-0.
35 min: No they can't, another turnover of possession. The Sharks are really struggling to produce any meaningful attack.
34 min: Another chance for the Sharks to hit back. Let's see if they can make something of it.
31 min: Nice clearing kick by Pearce finds touch near the Sharks' line. The halfback is controlling play well so far tonight. If only he could produce that sort of composure at Origin level.
26 min: Better goal-line defence from the Sharks, denying the Roosters a fifth try. But they desperately need a try soon to get back into the game.
20 min: The Roosters are simply blowing the Sharks off the park. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, running off a neat short ball from Pearce, powers his way over. After 31 consecutive successful shots for the Roosters, Maloney misses the kick. ROOSTERS 22-0.
16 min: What a try! The Roosters turn on the razzle dazzle, the ball passing through half a dozen sets of hands before winger Daniel Tupou crosses. Maloney adds the extras. ROOSTERS 18-0.
11 min: Sharks squander their first chance inside the Roosters' 20m zone, Michael Gordon knocking on on only the third tackle.
8 min: Roosters open up a 12-point lead after Jake Friend, in the best form of his career this season, scores a soft try from dummy half. Maloney adds the extras. ROOSTERS 12-0.
3 min: TRY! Mitchell Pearce puts Boyd Cordner over after a well-worked decoy play. That will do wonders for Pearce's confidence after his Origin shocker. James Maloney converts. ROOSTERS 6-0.
Good evening all, welcome to our coverage of tonight's match.
As reported during the week, injuries have ruled big guns Luke Lewis and Sonny Bill Williams out of this crucial clash. Mark Taufua comes into the injury-ravaged Sharks' team to replace Lewis and Isaac Lui has been included in the Roosters' line-up for Williams, who misses his first game for the club this season. The amended teams appear in the preview below.
Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Saturday 7.30pm (AEST)
Last meeting: Round 18 2012 - Roosters 14 drew with Sharks 14 at Remondis Stadium
Head-to-head: Roosters 54 Sharks 27 drawn 2
Referees: Matt Cecchin, Henry Perenara
TV: Live, FoxSports 1
TAB: Roosters $1.18 Sharks $5.0
FootyTab: Sharks +6.5
Phil Mitchell writes: If Cronulla topple the Roosters, it will rank among their gutsiest wins of recent seasons. Injuries have hit the Sharks hard with NSW back-rower Luke Lewis this week joining a casualty ward that includes skipper Paul Gallen, vice-captain Wade Graham, halfback Jeff Robson, winger Beau Ryan and back-rower Anthony Tupou. Fortunately the Sharks are now better equipped to deal with such setbacks and will still field a strong team. Five-eighth Todd Carney has struck a rich vein of form in the past fortnight, while any pack that contains NSW prop Andrew Fifita and Jayson Bukuya cannot be underestimated. The Roosters have four players backing up from State of Origin, however the rest of the squad should be fresh after the bye last weekend.
Phil's tip: Roosters by eight.
AAP writes: The Sharks will struggle to gain momentum with key forwards Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis both out injured. The Roosters on the other hand are in sensational form, winning four of their last five matches. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returns on the wing for the Roosters, pushing Mitchell Aubusson back to the bench. Despite the Roosters being heavy favourites, this should be a close one and there will be a great battle between Blues five-eighth James Maloney and his predecessor Todd Carney.
Key: Mitchell Pearce will need to put Origin III behind him with a confidence building performance here.
ROOSTERS: Anthony Minichiello (capt), Daniel Tupou, Michael Jennings, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Luke O’Donnell, Boyd Cordner, Mitchell Aubusson, Frank-Paul Nuuausala. Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Aidan Guerra, Sam Moa, Isaac Liu.
SHARKS: Michael Gordon, Sosaia Feki, Stewart Mills, Jonathan Wright, Nathan Stapleton, Todd Carney, Chad Townsend, Ben Ross, John Morris, Bryce Gibbs, Sam Tagataese, Jayson Bukuya, Chris Heighington. Interchange: Andrew Fifita, Isaac De Gois, Tyrone Peachey, Mark Taufua.