VB NSW Cup Previews - Rd 6
Wentworthville v Canterbury: MAGPIES SET TO SWOOP
(Pirtek Stadium, Saturday 11 April, 12.40pm)
Sometimes it’s all about staying confident.
Languishing at the bottom of the ladder, the Wentworthville Magpies will enter their match as massive underdogs against the Canterbury Bulldogs at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday.
“We’ve used 29 players so far in the first five weeks – that’s a big turnover of players,” Magpies coach Brett Cook said.
Although the odds are against them, Cook is making sure his side stays positive.
“The boys are in good spirits even though they’re disappointed about losing last week,” Cook said.
Canterbury won their past two matches and will be keen to cement a top-four position with a victory over Wentworthville but the Bulldogs don’t intimidate Cook.
“It’s been no different to how we prepare this week,” Cook said. “We’re still working hard together at training.
“It’s about working and getting familiarity and making sure we do better in certain areas.”
Illawarra v Wyong: CUTTING THROUGH SLOW STARTS
(WIN Stadium, Saturday 11 April, 3.00pm)
It’s easy to understand why the Illawarra Cutters would be so heartbroken with their 34-26 loss against the Newcastle Knights last round after storming back from 24-0 behind to take a two-point lead.
“We just have to keep working hard,” Cutters coach Scott Logan said. “We can’t give starts like that and expect to run teams down.”
Illawarra rallied to take a 26-24 lead and appeared to have completed the fairytale comeback of the year until two Knights tries in the final three minutes broke the Cutters’ hearts.
“It’s got a fair bit to do with how we start games and we started slowly against Wentworthville the week before too,” Logan said. “We’re trying to rectify our start with a little more effort and better execution from everyone.”
The Roos are high on confidence after their impressive 42-6 thumping of the Warriors. The Cutters will need to be focused from the very outset as they go up against the defensively-orientated Roos.
“It’s just a mindset,” Logan said. “We’ve got a really strong squad. We just need everyone focused on their roles doing the best they can in making their own individual efforts that help the team collectively get the result we want.”
Logan admits Illawarra face a difficult challenge this week against the Roos but is looking for answers from within themselves.
“Wyong’s going to be tough defensively but we’re just trying to control the things we can do better,” Logan said. “I’m confident that if we do that, regardless of the team, we’re going to be in the competition.”
Mounties v Newcastle: CAN KNIGHTS CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN?
(Aubrey Keech Reserve, Saturday 11 April, 3.00pm)
The undefeated Mounties face their biggest test of the season so far against the Newcastle Knights in the most anticipated match of the round.
Excitement is quickly growing for Mounties who are yet to taste defeat after five rounds in the VB NSW Cup with everyone guessing who will beat them.
It’s an enormous opportunity for Mounties to prove themselves against last year’s grand finalists and they will have to remain focused despite all the attention they are generating.
But Newcastle will be motivated to end Mounties’ unbeaten run and claim their fourth win of the season.
Mounties prop forward Luke Page is creating an internet storm with highlights from his epic man-of-the-match performance against Manly last week going viral around the rugby league community.
The Knights forward pack, led by captain Clint Newton, will need to be ready for a bruising encounter.
Strap yourselves in for an explosive showdown between two of the competition’s heavyweights.
NZ Warriors v Wests Tigers: DESPERATE TIMES
(Mt Smart Stadium, Saturday 11 April, 5:15pm NZ time, [3.15pm AEST])
It’s a desperate clash in the VB NSW Cup for the New Zealand Warriors and the Wests Tigers who are both eager to bounce back into the winners’ column this week.
The Wests Tigers have the added motivation of trying to avoid their third-consecutive defeat after their two-point loss against the Penrith Panthers last weekend and a four-point loss to the top-of-the-table Mounties the week before.
“No one likes to lose three straight but no one likes to lose any games for that matter,” said Wests Tigers coach Paul Fletcher.
Fletcher admits it’s the fault of his own team that resulted in the back-to-back losses.
“Over the last two weeks we’ve been our own worst enemy,” Fletcher said. “We’ve been in both games and unfortunately we’ve let ourselves down. That’s not to take anything away from the opposition but we contributed towards our own defeats.”
Sitting in second place on the ladder before their match against the Wyong Roos, the Warriors fell apart in the final 15 minutes on the way to a 42-6 trouncing. The Warriors will be determined to climb back up the standings.
“It’s going to be who wants it more,” Fletcher said.
“It was a big loss they (the Warriors) had last weekend. We’ll have to be on our game. Hopefully this week we stick to what we do best and get the result.
“We know what to expect.”
Penrith v Manly: SEA EAGLES' BIG TEST
(Pepper Stadium, Saturday 11 April, 5.15pm)
With just one win so far, it’s not the start to the season the Manly Sea Eagles were after as they prepare for their upcoming clash against the Penrith Panthers at Pepper Stadium on Saturday.
The Sea Eagles jumped out to an early 18-4 lead against the undefeated Mounties but fell 26-24 in an absorbing contest. While not getting the result, Manly coach Luke Williamson is pleased with his side’s progress.
“We’ve improved the last couple of games,” Williamson said. “There’s a good confidence in the group. Once we believe in ourselves then we can match up with anyone including the competition leaders (Mounties). It’s just a continuation of the execution and going through our process and believing that the guys can do it.”
Penrith recorded a much-needed 12-10 victory against the Wests Tigers in a low-scoring affair at Pepper Stadium.
While the Panthers have home-ground advantage again this week, they have a tough assignment in containing Sea Eagles hooker Jayden Hodges. Hodges is in superb form and was close to being man of the match last week on a losing side.
“Hodges has been exceptional, he’s been excellent,” Williamson said. “He’s certainly been one of our best players every game. He’s a great attacking option and he fits into our team really well.”
With that sort of attacking arsenal, it’s no wonder the Sea Eagles are excited to take on the Panthers.
North Sydney v Newtown: BEARS FACE FLYING JETS
(North Sydney Oval, Sunday 12 April, 3.00pm)
It’s been a rough start for the bottom-of-the-table North Sydney Bears and it doesn’t get any easier as they face the Newtown Jets who are riding a three-game win streak.
The Bears stand with their sole win of the season but it’s not their lack of effort that has let them down.
“It’s been a lack of experience when we get in front that has let us down,” Bears coach Wayne Lambkin said.
“We’ve led four of the five games including Penrith with no experience in our side. We’re certainly performing better than last year, it’s just time to finish off the game and the last 15 minutes of the last two games has let us down.”
North Sydney suffered two tough consecutive losses in which they led in both contests against the Warriors and Canterbury Bulldogs.
Although the Bears’ halves combination of Brad Wall and Nikko Roberts have shown promising signs in the VB NSW Cup there is still plenty to learn for them.
“We have two inexperienced halves,” Lambkin said. “Our last-tackle options haven’t been the best but we’re working on that. They’ve got to go through that experience and follow instructions to improve their game.”
The Jets have exploded for three straight victories after stumbling out of the gates with back-to-back losses and are determined to make it four in a row. However, Lambkin insists his team will keep the focus on his own team.
“We’ll look to prepare ourselves rather than worry about the Jets,” Lambkin said. “It’s us that are losing games rather than us getting beaten.”