Kimmorley says southern derby is crucial - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kimmorley says southern derby is crucial

By Liam Fitzgibbon 01/08/2008 02:24:33 PM Comments (0)

Cronulla halfback Brett Kimmorley rates Saturday's NRL clash with St George Illawarra among the most important battles fought between the southern Sydney rivals.

The 22nd derby between the Sharks and Dragons shapes as crucial one for both teams end-of-season ambitions and Kimmorley said there had rarely been so much at stake.

"I think the local derby tends to make a great game whether you're going good or bad but both teams are travelling very well this season," Kimmorley said ahead of the Toyota Stadium match.

"Both probably expect to win the game and this time around it's probably a top four battle.

"We could probably upset our season (if we lose) or grab a bit of confidence by beating them."

The Dragons are sitting sixth following Monday night's 30-0 win over the Bulldogs, which restored them to the top eight after two straight losses.

The Sharks meanwhile are in fourth place, only two point off competition leaders Manly, and have maintained touch with the top of the competition for most of this season.

However, despite their consistency, Cronulla are rarely touted as genuine premiership contenders - something returning lock Greg Bird said suited them perfectly.

"Im pretty happy for us to cruise by and let the other teams get talked about," Bird said.

"It doesn't really bother us, we can just sit in the background and hopefully creep up on a few teams."

Bird will make his return from a five-week stint on the sidelines with a knee injury, but said he was unlikely to play a full match due to lack of match fitness.

The NSW five-eighths return is a significant boost to the Sharks, and another blow to the Dragons who are missing both Ben Creagh (quad) and Mark Gasnier (thigh) through injury.

Gasnier suffered a cork in last week's victory over the Dogs and with Chase Stanley set to replace him in the centres.

The Dragons also have recent history against them, with Cronulla winning the past three derbies but halfback Ben Hornby tipped Saturday's game would go right down to the wire.

"The stats show that the games are always very close and we don't expect it to be any different," Hornby said.

"There is always a lot of feeling taken into the games because there is a fair bit of history there."

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