VB NSW Cup Previews - Rd 7
Canterbury v Manly: BULLDOGS PREPARE FOR SEA EAGLES’ SWOOP
(ANZ Stadium, Friday 17 April, 5:15pm)
Although the Manly Sea Eagles have only the one win so far this season, the Canterbury Bulldogs know they’re better than their record suggests.
“[Manly] started sensationally against Penrith scoring the first two tries,” Bulldogs coach Andy Patmore said. “They played really well against one of the top sides in Penrith.
“We’re expecting a very tough game at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.”
The Sea Eagles led 16-6 against the reigning premiers before the Panthers stormed back to clinch a 24-16 win at Pepper Stadium.
Canterbury is coming off a shock 25-18 loss against the Wentworthville Magpies. While they were right in the contest, it was a lack of execution in dying stages that let the Bulldogs down.
“It’s a lack of experience during crucial moments,” Patmore said. “That was the hardest thing in missing a couple of the older blokes like Antonio Kaufusi that led to some basic errors at certain times.”
Manly prevailed 30-24 the last time the two sides met in Round 25 at Brookvale Oval last season and the Bulldogs are preparing for another tough contest despite club commitments to the first grade squad.
“We’re working on it but again with the club situation with players out, it’s going to be another tough week for us,” Patmore said.
“We’ll be a bit skinny but we’ll be right in the fight.”
Wests Tigers v Illawarra: LOOKING TO CUT BACK
(Campbelltown Stadium, Saturday 18 April, 10:45am)
The Illawarra Cutters will travel to Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday looking to get their season back on track against the seventh-placed Wests Tigers.
Scott Logan’s side came within eight minutes of claiming their second win last weekend against the Wyong Roos, however a lapse of concentration deep into the second half cost the Cutters, surrendering two late tries to go down by four points.
The Wests Tigers, who will also be looking to return to the winners’ circle after falling short against the Warriors in New Zealand, possess a host of names that the Cutters will need to be wary of.
Halfback Josh Drinkwater has been impressive in the opening rounds of the season and will look to continue his good form on Saturday.
Penrith v Warriors: ANOTHER EPIC ON THE CARDS?
(Pepper Stadium, Saturday 18 April, 3pm)
The Panthers and Warriors will meet at Pepper Stadium on Saturday in one of the matches of the round.
Despite struggling for the majority of their clash against the Sea Eagles last weekend, the Panthers managed to claw their way back from a six-point half time deficit to record a 24-16 victory.
The Warriors were impressive in their 12-point victory over the Wests Tigers at Mt Smart Stadium last weekend, bouncing back from a disappointing loss to Wyong the week before.
With both sides showcasing a host of NRL players, this match is sure to provide plenty of entertainment for those at the foot of the mountain.
Newtown v Mounties: JETS READY FOR TEST
(Henson Park, Saturday 18 April, 3.00pm)
It’s the hotly-anticipated showdown between the VB NSW Cup’s two most in-form sides.
The undefeated Mounties take on the high-flying Newtown Jets who have won four straight games after dropping losing their opening two matches.
It’s the Jets’ biggest test of the season so far but it’s business as usual according to coach Greg Matterson.
“There’s no extra emphasis,” Matterson said. “It’s just another two points, it’s all we’re looking for.
“Mounties are deserved favourites this week but that’s not to say if we play well we can’t beat them.”
It’s a remarkable turnaround as the Jets climb the competition ladder but there isn’t any secret, Matterson claims.
“It’s hard work,” Matterson said. “Hard work and a few players hitting form.
“We’re just focusing on Newtown and that’s all we’re worried about this season. We’ve just got to keep improving. We don’t focus on the opposition, we only focus on ourselves.”
While beating Mounties and ending their unbeaten start would be a great triumph, Newtown have much bigger things in mind.
“At the end of the day it’s a long season,” Matterson said. “We focus on improving each week and staying healthy if we can, and see where it takes us in the back end of the year.”
Whether they admit it or not, their match against Mounties will definitely indicate just how much of a premiership threat Newtown pose.
Newcastle v Wentworthville: MAGPIES TO BUILD IN NEWCASTLE
(Hunter Stadium, Sunday 19 April, 11.45am)
The Wentworthville Magpies’ 25-18 win against the Bulldogs was the upset of the round last weekend and they will have to quickly turn their attention as they travel to Hunter Stadium to face the Newcastle Knights.
“Hopefully last week’s win is something we can build on,” Magpies coach Brett Cook said. “It was definitely our best performance this season with the way we defended and attacked.”
Newcastle is coming off a dispiriting 24-22 defeat against Mounties. The Knights looked to have ended Mounties’ perfect start when they led 22-18 with ten minutes remaining. However, it wasn’t to be as Mitch Cornish nailed a difficult sideline conversion to beat the Newcastle.
Wentworthville are determined to add to their two wins this season but admit they are still a work in progress.
“We know our ball handling is an area that is letting us down at the moment,” Cook said. “If we have more discipline with the ball and conceding less penalties, it won’t put as much pressure on our defence.
“I think it’s just concentration and execution. We get ahead of ourselves sometimes.”
The Magpies will most certainly have to remain focused on the Knights before they get ahead of themselves anytime soon.
North Sydney v Wyong: ROOS WEARY OF HUNGRY BEARS
(North Sydney Oval, Saturday 18 April, 3.00pm)
The Wyong Roos are sitting comfortably in second place on the VB NSW Cup ladder as they take on the lowly North Sydney Bears at North Sydney Oval this Saturday.
Although North Sydney sit in last place, the Roos will be fully prepared for a hungry Bears side under new coach Ben Gardiner.
“History tells you players are eager to impress under a new coach,” Wyong coach Rip Taylor said.
“They’ve also got a couple of new players joining in Darren Nicholls and Cody Walker from the South Sydney Rabbitohs’ first grade squad.“
Wyong will need to have a better start after their last-gasp 24-20 comeback victory against the Illawarra Cutters last round. The ability to win ugly is a characteristic of premiership contending teams and is something that pleases Taylor.
“The boys are building on confidence and there was a little bit of luck against Illawarra,” Taylor said. “There’s always a bit of luck but we really did press the envelope in defence and forced a few errors that paid off.”
It would be the shock of the round if the Bears pulled off the upset victory but it’s exactly the sort of unforgettable debut that Gardiner would relish.