VB NSW Cup Previews - Round Twenty Two
Wests Tigers Vs NZ Warriors
Kirkham Park, Camden, Saturday, August 9
Referee: Drew Oultram
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of 2GLF FM 89.3 (Link available via 893fm.com.au)
Summary: A cracking match here to kick-off proceedings when the fourth placed Tigers host the sixth placed Warriors out at Kirkham Park, Camden. With just the four regular season matches remaining, each and every game from here on in will have major ramifications on places inside the top eight. The Tigers went down to the Jets last weekend 30-14 at Henson Park, meaning that they have now lost four of their last six, with the two wins both coming against the bottom placed Bears. The Warriors were one of the competitions form sides prior to copping a serious reality check last round courtesy of a 42-4 loss at the hands of Mounties. One positive for the Tigers to come out of last week was the successful return of Tim Moltzen from the long term injury list. With the Tigers NRL side having to call upon the services of a number of Tigers VB NSW Cup regulars, the return of Moltzen is a timely one, and Paul Fletcher will be hoping that his influence can help his team over the concluding rounds. Solomone Kata, David Fusitua and Carlos Tuimavave have all been added to the Warriors team from the one that went down to Mounties last week.
Cheap As Chips: All Tigers fans, and any Sydney based Warriors fans, are encouraged to get out to Kirkham Park on Saturday for what promises to be an enthralling VB NSW Cup clash. And with entry on the day just $2, there is absolutely no reason not to head out and take in some great footy action.
Prediction: The Warriors should be smarting after their performance last week and can bounce back here. Warriors by 4.
Illawarra Cutters Vs Mounties
Ron Costello Oval, Shellharbour, Saturday, August 9
Referee: Adam Cassidy
Summary: An all top four encounter awaits as the Illawarra Cutters, looking to bounce back from a round 21 loss to the Knights, host Mounties, fresh off a big win over the Warriors. Despite their loss last weekend, the Cutters have maintained their hold on second spot on the ladder but there are now just two competition points between them and the eighth placed Knights. With a bye up their sleeve and two winnable games still to come against the Tigers and Roos, the Cutters still appear to be in the box seat for a top four spot. The powers that be at Mounties will know that this match is an important one for their top four chances as they still have games against the Panthers and Sharks to come over the last month. With Mitch Cornish, Mark Nicholls and Bill Tupou all on a plane to Darwin with the Raiders, Mounties will be tested here with Jack Ahearn moving into the halves to partner Ryan Carr while young Andrew Heffernan will make his VB NSW Cup debut. The Cutters will take a near unchanged line up into this one although Yaw Kiti Glymin has been named after not playing last weekend. The Cutters got home by seven points the last time these two sides met, with Shannon Wakeman bagging a double on that occasion.
Cards Close To The Chest: While the two points on offer are of the highest importance, both coaches will be hoping to get through this one without having to show all of their cards. There is a fair chance that this won’t be the last time that these two sides meet this year, so both Scott Logan and Steve Antonelli will be hoping to get the points without having to delve too deep into the playbook.
Prediction: The Cutters are always a tough proposition at home, and this should be no different. Cutters by 8.
Penrith Panthers Vs North Sydney Bears
Sportingbet Stadium, Saturday, August 9
Referee: Jeff Hartup
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via www.hawkesburyradio.com.au)
Summary: The 2014 Minor Premiers play host to the side that looks almost certain to claim this year’s wooden spoon. It has been two very different stories for these clubs in 2014 with one hoping their season will continue for another eight weeks while the other is probably wishing it would end tomorrow. With the Panthers win over Manly and the Cutters loss to the Knights, the Panthers claimed the Minor Premiership last weekend with a month of the regular season remaining. It has been a truly dominant season for Penrith, winning 17 of their 21 games played thus far. The Panthers unsurprisingly have both the best defence and attack in 2014, and when you consider that they lost their opening two fixtures to the Knights and Roos, their achievement has been nothing short of remarkable. The Bears once again fell away late against the Bulldogs last weekend, and lost by 18 despite being in a winning position with 20 minutes remaining. If the Bears are to be any chance of pulling off what would be the upset of the season, they will need to start fast and play for the full 80 minutes. When these two sides met back in round 15 the Bears only lost by four points, going down 32-28 at North Sydney Oval, so maybe they can draw some confidence from that.
Record Season: The dominance in which this year’s Panthers team has gone about their work has seen them draw comparison with last year’s Cronulla side. The Sharks wrapped up the Minor Premiership a month early just the like the Panthers this year and their records are eerily similar. In fact, if the Panthers can win their three remaining games, they will finish the season on 44 competition points, one point ahead of the Sharks total from 2013 (43 points).
Prediction: Hard to see anything other than a Panthers win. Panthers by 14.
Cronulla Sharks Vs Newcastle Knights
Hunter Stadium, Saturday, August 9
Referee: Daniel Olford
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports 1 and Sky Sport NZ
Summary: Possibly the match of the round here as the eighth placed Knights tackle the seventh placed Sharks. A match that was originally scheduled as a Sharks home game, but transferred to Hunter Stadium for television purposes, will see two sides desperate to keep distance between themselves and the chasing pack. With the Jets gifted two points thanks to their second bye of the season, barring a draw, one of these two teams will be just one point clear of Newtown in eighth spot at the end of this match. Cronulla have perhaps the easier run home of these two sides with games against the Roos and Bears over the next few weeks before finishing off with a match against Mounties while the Knights face the Warriors, Manly and the Jets, all in Newcastle. The Knights showed last week in their win over the Cutters that while they are only in eighth spot, there is not much between the sides sitting anywhere from second to as far down as tenth on the ladder. The Sharks should be rested having had the bye last weekend, and despite the clubs recent injury crisis, they have managed to name a fairly strong side.
History Repeating: As we alluded to above, this will be the second clash between these two sides at Hunter Stadium this year after this match was moved to fall in line with the fox broadcast schedule. When these two sides first met back in round four, it was a seven point win to the Knights, and it was capped off with on that occasion a Matt Hilder field goal… yes, that’s correct, a Matt Hilder field goal. We reckon that this one might come down to the wire once again, so look for Hilder to remind Matt Minto and Michael Dobson of his earlier season heroics late in this one.
Prediction: The Knights look to have struck form at the right time. Knights by 7.
Wentworthville Magpies Vs Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Ringrose Park, Sunday, August 10
Referee: Damian Briscoe
Summary: Wenty will be looking to post their first win in over a month after they suffered their fourth straight defeat at the hands of the Roos last weekend. Sitting pretty in second not all that long ago, Wenty now enter this one in fifth place and just two points clear of both the Knights and Sharks, who both have a better for and against than the Magpies. While it would be unlikely that Wenty will fall out of the top eight by seasons end, a top four finish is now looking like an even money proposition at best. Manly was the latest side to taste the Panthers wrath last round, going down 36-0 at the foot of the mountains. While the Sea Eagles season is over in terms of participating in the finals, each of their next three games is set to have a fair say on the final make-up of the eight. While a win here against Wenty could see the Magpies in danger of slipping even further down the ladder, a win next week against the Jets would all but end their season, and the Knights a week later may well be playing for a spot in the top four. Young guns Fabian Goodall and John Folau have been named here for Wenty, but with the Eels NYC side playing the Raiders at Ringrose Park as the curtain raiser to this match, don’t be surprised to see some late changes.
Classic Clash: Believe it or not, when these two sides first met at Brooky back in round three it was one of the matches of the year. On that occasion, it was a late Wenty converted try that saw the Magpies get out of jail against a valiant Sea Eagles. Plenty of water has gone under the bridge since then but hopefully for the sake of the big crowd that should be on hand, these two sides will serve up more of the same on Sunday.
Prediction: Manly are in with a shot but Wenty probably need it more. Magpies by 6.
Wyong Roos Vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Morry Breen Oval, Sunday, August 10
Referee: Chris Treneman
Broadcast: NSWRL Match Centre coverage available via NSWRL.com.au
Summary: A win against Wenty last weekend has seen the Roos keep their slim finals chances alive for at least one more week. With the Knights and Sharks meeting each other this Saturday, a win here for Wyong should see them just two points behind the eighth placed side at rounds end. The biggest issue for the Roos is their poor for and against. As a result, they must win all four of their remaining games, and with their last three away from home against top eight opponents, they will be up against it. The Bulldogs registered their sixth win of the season last week against the Bears and will head into this clash believing that they can extend that tally to seven. Jaline Graham bagged a hat trick against the Bears and will need to be watched closely by the Roos defence. Zane Tetevano claimed man of the match honours for Wyong last weekend and continues to play well in the green and gold. Despite his issues at the Knights, a strong finish to the season is likely to see him targeted by a number of NRL clubs for 2015.
Under-Dogs: Often in sport there are rivalries, and some of those rivalries are formed off the back of one side having a dominant record over another. Now while we may not yet be at that point just yet, with three wins to their name from three matches played against the Bulldogs, Wyong are quickly becoming the Bulldogs bogey side.
Prediction: Similarly to the game at Ringrose Park, a win to either team wouldn’t shock, but Wyong need it more. Roos by 2.
Newtown Jets have the BYE
Make sure you are following @NSWRL on twitter and monitoring the #VBNSWCup hashtag all season long for all the latest news and scores.