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VB NSW Cup Previews - Rd 9


Canterbury v Mounties: Bulldogs enter battle with Mounties

(GIO Stadium, Saturday 9 May, 12:40pm)

The Canterbury Bulldogs are clinging to eighth place in the VB NSW Cup as they go against the competition leaders, Mounties.

Coming off back-to-back losses, last weekend’s break due to representative honours came at the right time for the Bulldogs according to coach Andy Patmore

“The club is still handling a few injuries and suspensions,” Patmore said. “With the week off, we get a few of the boys back. The break was good, it was good to have the weekend off.”

Patmore asserts while it was nice to relax and enjoy some recovery time, there was no discussion of Canterbury’s current losing streak or record of just three wins so far.

“You don’t talk about winning and losing,” Patmore said. “You talk about process. We continuously work on things that we need to.”

Going against the competition leaders won’t be any easier after Mounties suffered their first loss of the season against the Penrith Panthers in round eight.
Patmore knows they’re determined to bounce back in expecting a physical contest.

“They’re a big powerful team,” Patmore said. “We’ve got to stop their momentum. We have to ensure good contact and try to put their forwards on their backs. It’s a tough ask because they’re a very good team.

“Their halfback (Mitch Cornish) has a bit of experience too so if we control the forwards than hopefully we can restrict their halfback.”

Don’t miss this gripping contest as featured as this week’s FOX Sports VB NSW Cup match of the round.


Manly v NZ Warriors: Manly aim for third-straight win

(Henson Park, Saturday 9 May, 1:00pm)

The Manly Sea Eagles will attempt to keep their two-game win streak alive against the fourth-placed New Zealand Warriors on Saturday at Henson Park.

Sea Eagles coach Luke Williamson takes benefit from last weekend’s bye despite Manly in winning form.
“It’s come at the right time,” Williamson said. “We had eight physical games building up nicely. It was good to have a bit of rest for a few players missing with injury

“To get that week break with a potential for a few players returning this week came at the right time.”

There’s a fear that the Sea Eagles will lose momentum with the week off after finally hitting their stride to win their past two matches following their sole victory in their first six matches.

“Prior to our past two wins, we narrowly lost and we were building up,” Williamson said. “You could say the rub of the green has gone our way but they kept working and they’re staying with that. We will keep improving.”

The inconsistent Warriors will be desperate to string consecutive victories after emphatically defeating the Newtown Jets 44-18. Manly are confident of upsetting the Warriors to clinch two vital competition points.

“We want to keep the momentum going,” Williamson said. “It’s a big game for us against the Warriors. It’s an important game for us in our season.

“It would be great to keep momentum and keep building as well as staying in touch with the top eight.”

Although the Sea Eagles enter the match as the underdogs, only one thing is for certain; don’t ever count Manly out.


Newtown v Illawarra: Jets raring to go against in-form Cutters

(Henson Park, Saturday 9 May, 3:00pm)

The Jets are eager to get back on the football field against the Illawarra Cutters at Henson Park on Saturday.

“It’s been a long two weeks,” Jets coach Greg Matterson said. “We’re not happy with the results. It was a bit disruptive at training without a few rep players but we’re back into it this week.”

Newtown were on a four-game win streak before losses against Mounties and New Zealand in their past two matches before the break.

“We’ve just been down on troops with a few injuries in the forwards,” Matterson said. “But the break gave us a chance to analyse what’s gone wrong for us and hopefully we can fix it up.”

Newtown opened their season with back-to-back losses before four consecutive wins. It’s been an inconsistent opening to the season for the streaky Jets who have dealt with a number of changes to the line-up on a weekly basis.

“It’s no excuse,” Matterson said. “At the end of the day, they are considered premier players and reaching NRL quality is their goal. They have to go out and do their job. We’re not using our roster as an excuse but it does take a little bit of time to adjust when you lose your strike players as someone has to step in and the game plan has to change. There is a bit of an adjustment and we haven’t got it right at the moment.”

The Cutters sit in seventh place on the ladder after consecutive victories before the break with an aim to make it three wins on the trot. Newtown knows they need to improve on consistent performances in order to succeed this season.

“It’s a joint thing,” Matterson said. “You’ve got to analyse yourself and we’ve got to analyse ourselves and do it together to work out a way to improve our performance as a group. We all need input and buy into what we’re doing.”

It’s set to be a thrilling match featuring two of the VB NSW Cup’s most exciting sides.


Wyong v Wests Tigers: Frantic clash between Roos and Wests Tigers

(Morry Breen Oval, Sunday 10 May, 3:00pm)

The Wyong Roos are desperate to beat the Wests Tigers and bounce back from their past two past disappointing defeats against Illawarra and the North Sydney Bears.

“(The break) refreshed them a little bit,” Roos coach Rip Taylor said. “There have been a few bumps and bruises coming after the opening third of the season.

“Overall, they’ve come back with a spring in their step and hopefully we won’t make it three losses in a row.”

Wests Tigers scored a desperate 29-28 victory against the Wentworthville Magpies in their past match after dropping their previous five matches. It’s a significant opportunity for the fifth-placed Roos to sneak into the top four of the ladder. Taylor is adamant that it will come down to execution against Wests Tigers along with captain Mitch Williams leading the way.

“(At hooker) he’s a part of the spine of the football team,” Taylor said. “His experience and will to win is very valuable to the team.

“We’ll have to complete our sets. The Wests Tigers have completion rates of 78 percent and 85 percent in their past two games. They don’t turn a lot of cheap ball over. If we continue to turn the ball over the way we have we’ll be on the back end of the wrong scoreboard.”


Newcastle v North Sydney: Knights ready for next stage of the season

(GIO Stadium, Saturday 9 May, 3:00pm)

The Newcastle Knights face North Sydney in a crucial clash on Sunday at Newcastle Sports Ground 2.

“It’s an important two week block for us with Norths on Saturday and Wests Tigers the following Sunday before the bye,” Knights coach Matt Lantry said. “It’s important to ensure back-to-back wins going into the bye because we have a tough road trip after in New Zealand before returning home against the competition leaders, Mounties.”

Sitting in third place, Lantry is pleased with his side’s progress so far this season after last year’s grand final defeat.

“Our most pleasing thing so far is our weekly improvement,” Lantry said. “A consistent 80-minute performance is still a challenge for us. We led 20-6 against Canterbury midway through the second half last round and we didn’t put them away when we should have.”

Newcastle eventually prevailed 20-12 against Canterbury but consistency remains the biggest challenge for Lantry’s side.

“We’re a young team, so it’s going to happen with concentration and that mental battle to stay in the game for 80 minutes but we’ll keep challenging ourselves for it,” Lantry said.

It’s the Bears’ third match under new coach Ben Gardiner who have been impressive since changing coaches but Lantry admits his side will have to avoid a slow start.

“The issue for us and most sides will be about coming off the week off,” Lantry said. “It’s important to get off to a decent start. The last thing we need is a slow start. North Sydney has a couple of new players and quality halves featuring Darren Nicholls and Cody Walker with Matt Hyland at hooker. They possess a real threat across the park. They have some good strike power with Darryl Millard at centre.”

Newcastle also possess genuine strike power with Jake Mamo, Nathan Ross, Pat and Chanel Mata’utia in the backline but require their forwards to lay the groundwork for attacking opportunities.

“We’ve struggled with some continuity in our halves and outside backs but when it does click, we will trouble teams with good attacking footy,” Lantry said.

“First, we have to earn the right to be able to do that.

“Realistically, if you’re not going forward, regardless of the backline you have you’re always going to struggle. We’ve put enormous ownership on our forwards to lay the platform for the team to have some ability to show what they do best.”


Wentworthville v Penrith: Panthers suffering injury crisis against the Magpies

(GIO Stadium, Saturday 9 May, 3:00pm)

The Penrith Panthers are not getting ahead of themselves after becoming the first team to defeat Mounties 16-10 and stamp their claims for back-to-back premierships.

“There’s still a long way to go, Panthers coach Garth Brennan said. “It’s only round nine. A lot can change. My side is very different this weekend to the one against Mounties with injuries and other things.”

Penrith are in the middle of an injury crisis going into their match against Wentworthville on Sunday.

“We’re just trying to get some health again,” Brennan said. “I don’t have my full summer squad and within the Panthers squad we don’t have another healthy player. Whatever player I have, I’ve put them in the team. You can see that Chris Smith is a back rower playing in the centres, Tupou Sopoaga is a back rower playing halfback.

“All I’ve done is pick 17 healthy players and try to fit them into this week’s team. I’m sure they’ll do the job but at the moment the cupboard’s empty. I’ve got what I have this weekend. There are players out of position but they’re all that’s available. I’ve got to slot them in wherever they can do the job.”

The Panthers have somehow climbed to second on the ladder with six wins despite a multitude of injuries and line-up changes.

“Everyone wants to go out and play their best because they want to play first grade,” Brennan said. “Consistency is the key. I keep ramming it home that we need to be consistent if you want to play NRL and you can’t be up one week and down the next. It’s important to stay up no matter who or where you’re playing or who’s in the team.”

It seems certain that the Panthers can comfortably put the Magpies away but Brennan is fully aware of any threat in the VB NSW Cup.

“The competition’s the closest I’ve ever seen it and I think anyone can beat anyone else on their day,” Brennan said. “If we don’t turn up, no matter who we’re playing or fielding, we’ll get beat. It’s without a doubt the most even and strongest VB NSW Cup competition I’ve seen in a long time.”

“We’re not healthy at the moment but I’ve got a lot of guys that compete hard and that’s what I ram home to my players that it’s not about the result but competing hard and trying to put your best foot forward to play NRL.

“That’s the key, consistency and competing hard. At the end of the day if you turn up and want the game more and tackle harder and run harder then you usually win.”