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Illawarra Cutters v Manly Sea Eagles: Cutters look to avenge loss

(WIN Stadium, Saturday 23 May, 3:00pm)

Eighth-placed Illawarra Cutters will go into battle with the Manly Sea Eagles in Wollongong this Saturday, with each team having recorded only three wins for the season so far.

One of the Sea Eagles' three wins was against the Cutters in Round Two, in an exciting game that saw the men in maroon climb back from a 16-0 deficit.

Cutters coach Scott Logan says whilst that agonising loss was extremely disappointing, he will use it as a motivation tactic coming into this match.

“We were coasting at 16-0 and before half time they managed to put two tries on us,” said Logan. “We just invited them back into the game. I’ll certainly be reminding the boys of that and we’ll be looking to rectify that.”

Logan says he is also preparing for the ever-improving Sea Eagles to have a strong squad due to the fact that their first-grade NRL side has the bye.

“Manly are much improved on last season,” says Logan. “Given the fact their NRL side’s got the bye they’ll get a couple of quality players back, and we’ll be having a quick look at there danger players.”

However, Logan assured that the major focus coming into the clash is concentrating on the little things and making sure they put forward a more consistent performance.

“I have to say that our form is pretty inconsistent at the moment. We discovered a little bit of form before the bye there,” said Logan. “We thought we could just go through the motions and think it was all going to happen without actually putting any polish on the end of our sets and building any pressure.”

“We really need to concentrate on fixing a few things from last week. Our focus this week will be based on those things.”

Both sides have had poor starts to the year, however in the last month they have managed to string a couple of wins together. It will be a very interesting clash with both teams aiming to step up and move away from the bottom half of the table as quickly as possible.


Wests Tigers v Wyong Roos: Tigers and Roos cross paths again

(Campbelltown Stadium, Saturday 23 May, 5:10pm)

Wests Tigers will be hoping to add another win to their early roller-coaster season this weekend when they take on the Wyong Roos - just two weeks after they last played.

Fourth-placed Tigers won that game in a 28-24 thriller as they scored a last-minute try to snatch the victory away from the Roos. However, coach Paul Fletcher is wary of a quality opposition out to avenge that heartbreaking defeat.

“They’re a quality football team,” says Fletcher. “I’m expecting the same from them.”

“I thought two weeks ago was a really high-quality game actually. I thought both sides played really well and the level of footy was really good to watch.”

Halfback Josh Drinkwater was instrumental in that game. Fletcher believes he is finding his form at the right time of the year and is key to the Tigers success not just for this week, but also for the remainder of the season.

“[Drinkwater] is pivotal in what we do, he’s very good at getting us to our marks to where we want to attack from,” Fletcher said. “His kicking game gets us in games if we’re struggling a bit. He’s been really good and he’s a central part in what we do.”

The Tigers are on a three-match winning streak, but all of those wins have been by a margin of four points or less. Along with the Roos win, they also defeated Wentworthville Magpies 29-28, and downed the Newcastle Knights last week 20-18.

Fletcher realises that the Tigers will need to complete more sets and control the game more in order to beat the Roos for a second time in three weeks.

“We’re just in a bad habit of making an error here or there, which invites teams back in,” Fletcher said.

“It’s just an area of the game that we’ve really got to address and fix up and be a bit more relentless in what we’re doing.”

The Roos have had a mixed start to the season but will be full of confidence coming into this game after defeating competition front-runners Mounties last week.

A win may see them advance into the top four depending on other results, possibly at the expense of the Tigers – which adds extra interest into this game.


Wentworthville Magpies v Newtown Jets: Both teams look to get seasons on track

(Ringrose Park, Sunday 24 May, 3:00pm)

A star-studded Wentworthville Magpies side featuring NRL star Chris Sandow are looking to make it two in a row against the seventh-placed Newtown Jets.

The Magpies have had a poor start to the year but a Sandow-injected performance inspired a massive 48-6 win last week and Jets coach Greg Matterson is adamant his side needs to vastly improve to stop another Wentworthville onslaught.

“We need to defend properly,” said Matterson. “We’ve got to improve our edge defence this week with Sandow and (Joseph) Paulo this week.”

When asked about his team's form coming into this week's match, Matterson made it clear that he is not happy with their last few weeks and that all his players need to improve across the park.

“Very disappointing,” said Matterson when asked about the teams consistency and form. “At the end of the day, as a whole team we need a lot of improvement right across the board.”

Since Round Seven, both teams have only managed to record one win each. The Magpies will have momentum after last week's thrashing - but the Jets early season form proved they are a side capable of being there come Finals time.

The Jets will be looking to eventually force their way back into the top four, and are hoping that a win this week could set the platform to do so. At the same time, the Magpies will be looking to eventually move up the table away from second last where they are situated at the moment.

Sandow and Paulo are full of attack for the Magpies whilst Nathan Gardner and Todd Murphy provide very exciting football for the Jets. These players are capable of scoring and setting up tries from anywhere on the field, and this game will be a very entertaining with lots of attacking flair.