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VB NSW Cup Previews - Rd 5


(Pepper Stadium, Saturday 4 April, 3.00pm)

The Penrith Panthers are coming off back-to-back losses and are desperate to get their VB NSW Cup defence back on track against the Wests Tigers.

As vital as a victory is, Panthers coach Garth Brennan is instead emphasising the team’s effort.

“The win is not the big thing,” Brennan said. “The performance is the thing we are looking for. We haven’t put 80 minutes together. I’m looking for the performance to be better.”

The Panthers lost 24-8 against the Newtown Jets and fell 18-16 to the Newcastle Knights in consecutive weeks. Last week was particularly bitter as the Knights kicked a penalty goal on fulltime after the Panthers rallied from 16-0.

It won’t be an easy task against the Wests Tigers who lost their first game of the season 26-22 in their top-of-the-table clash with Mounties.

Brennan is confident that all the signs are there for the Panthers to recapture their form and that it’s just a matter of time before it starts to click.

“We’ve played well in patches in the last two weeks,” Brennan said.

“The games we’ve lost have been close. Against Newtown, we were down to 11 men before the score blew out. And against Newcastle, we lost after the siren. We’re not far away, we’ve just got to keep persisting, working hard and we’ll get there. It’s only round five and it’s not panic stations just yet.”


Newtown v Wentworthville: JETS REVVING UP
(Henson Park, Saturday 4 April, 3.00pm)

The Newtown Jets are looking to make it three wins on the trot this week against the Wentworthville Magpies, who won their first game of the season against the Cutters last week.

Despite back-to-back victories, Jets coach Greg Matterson isn’t pleased with his side’s form so far.

“We’re still a work in progress,” Matterson said. “I wasn’t happy at all with our performance [against Manly]. We still have a lot of work to do. We’re happy we’ve won a couple of games but I feel like we’re miles off where we need to be.”

The Jets scored 16 unanswered points to seal a comeback victory against the Manly Sea Eagles last week after trailing 26-16 with 20 minutes remaining. Although it’s comforting to know that Newtown are capable of coming back and scoring plenty of points, Matterson knows it’s a dangerous trend to continue.

“In the VB NSW Cup and all of rugby league, if you lose momentum, it can really hurt you,” Matterson said. “Manly had six sets in a row and got a bit of momentum scoring a few tries. Then we had to play catch-up. We’ve got enough strike in our side but we won’t be able to do that this week versus Wentworthville.”

The Magpies will be without the VB NSW Cup 2014 Player of the Year Bureta Faraimo – who is starting on the wing for the Parramatta Eels’ first grade side on Monday – but enter their match with much confidence after breaking through for their first win of the season.

“Wenty might say they have a couple of troops down but they came up with a good performance last week with a good defensive performance to hold Illawarra to only 16 points as well,” Matterson said. “They’re going to be tough.”


Canterbury v North Sydney: BEARS LOOK TO BITE BACK
(Belmore Sports Ground, Saturday 4 April, 3.00pm)

The North Sydney Bears suffered a demoralising 18-16 defeat against the Warriors last week. It was set to be the upset of the round as North Sydney led 16-2 before the Warriors recovered late in the contest.

The Bears will have to rally against the Canterbury Bulldogs who are coming off an impressive 34-24 victory against the Wyong Roos. Bulldogs coach Any Patmore was particularly pleased with his side’s performance.

“I thought we were very good against a very powerful Wyong side,” Patmore said. “We handled that and played a good style of footy to score some great tries. I was very happy and our defence improved a lot from the week before.”

While 24 points isn’t exactly ideal for Patmore, he knows he has the luxury of knowing that his team is more than capable of finding the try line.

“We’ve got a side that can attack and I never doubt that. It’s about defence for us. I’m always confident that we will score points with the style of play and talent that we have. Attack is never an issue, it’s about keeping the other side to less than 20 and that’s something we work on during the week.”

Standing with two wins, the Bulldogs are gradually building momentum and are unlucky not to have four wins from four starts after a six-point loss against the Panthers and a two-point loss against the Wests Tigers.

Patmore’s determined for the Bulldogs to continue their momentum in expecting a tough battle with a hungry Bears side.

“They’re very strong in the middle, very quick with good leg speed. We’re preparing ourselves for a very tough game in the middle. They’re fast and quick in playing up-tempo.”

The Bears will have their hands full with last week’s man of the match, second-rower Adam Elliot, who has spear-headed the Bulldogs’ charge this season.

“[Elliot’s] outstanding,” Patmore said. “[He’s] played in a lot of junior representative teams and the Australian Schoolboys. He’s a quality kid right through on and off the field. He’s our captain and a first-year kid in the VB NSW Cup.”

Patmore asserts this is just the start of a long and fruitful career for the 20-year=old with a bright future in store for Elliot. “He’s going to be a very good NRL player eventually,” Patmore said. “He’s still learning but he’s handled himself very well at this level so far.”


(Ziems Park, Corrimal, Saturday 4 April, 3.00pm)

After extracting some revenge for last year’s Grand Final loss against the Penrith Panthers, the Newcastle Knights will have to refocus against the Illawarra Cutters in order for back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

“It was obviously a grand final rematch that the boys were looking forward to but we’re conscious of the fact that it’s about us and trying to get our season on track with some consistency,” Knights coach Matt Lantry said. “While it’s a win and two points for the competition ladder, it’s about us now and making sure we challenge ourselves to play 80 minutes against Illawarra.”

The Knights clinched a tight 18-16 victory against the Panthers after leading 16-0. The Cutters are coming off a disappointing 18-16 loss against Wentworthville after leading 10-6 at halftime. Like the Cutters, the Knights are determined to improve in closing out matches.

“It was a nice win with plenty of feeling throughout the game,” Lantry said. “We got away with a close one in the end but we really made it hard for ourselves in the end of the second half when we didn’t complete our sets. We were fortunate enough to get a lucky call at the end of the game and score the two points.”

Lantry knows that winning games requires a full 80-minute effort in gathering momentum for the rest of the season.

“It’s about challenging the players and ensuring they keep competing for the full 80 minutes,” Lantry said. “It’s not rocket science – they just need to be better under fatigue. Set completion and discipline are two things that certainly help us stay competitive for the full 80.”


Manly v Mounties: JUST ONE GAME AT A TIME
(Central Coast Stadium, Sunday 5 April, 2.05pm)

It’s understandable that some Mounties players would get a little ahead of themselves after their perfect start in the VB NSW Cup after four rounds.

Mounties coach Steve Antonelli, however, isn’t having a bar of it as they face the Manly Sea Eagles.

“It’s all about turning up every week and putting in the best performance,” Antonelli said. “We don’t look at it as being undefeated and on top of the ladder – we don’t look at it that way.

“We just take each week at a time.”

For Mounties, it’s just like any other week.

“I get my blokes up each week,” Antonelli said. “Every week is different and we just try to improve. Our big focus this week is to improve from last week’s performance.”

The top-of-the-table Mounties take on Manly who are distraught after relinquishing a 26-16 lead against Newtown and recording their third loss for the season.

“We’ve just been making sure all our little things are good,” Antonelli said. “We’ve been concentrating on our defence lately. Last week we had only nine missed tackles and we will try to improve on that again this week. If our defence is good then our attack will come naturally.”


(Morry Breen Oval, Sunday 5 April, 3.00pm)

Defence is the top priority for the Wyong Roos as they encounter the in-form New Zealand Warriors.

A week after they held the Knights scoreless for 72 minutes, the Roos lost 34-24 against the Canterbury Bulldogs. Rip Taylor is determined to find that steely resolve Wyong has shown in the first four rounds.

“We’ve dedicated more time to our defence, that’s for sure,” Taylor said. ”To concede that many points in one game; we didn’t have that many points put on us in our first three games.”

It’s essential the Roos correct their defence in facing the Warriors who are second on the ladder with three wins from the opening four rounds of the VB NSW Cup.

“We needed to address our defence and the Warriors are very big boys and very skilful,” Taylor said. “It’ll be a fair test to see whether we have improved or just going through the motions.

The Roos have the advantage of hosting the travelling Warriors at Morry Breen Oval and trying to improve their current record of two wins from four starts. For Taylor it’s all about a strong opening to the match. “We’ll have to put our bottoms on the ground and come out running.”

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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