Canterbury-Bankstown v Wentworthville: Friday night lights
(Belmore Sports Ground, Friday June 12, 7:00pm)
The Wentworthville Magpies will be desperate for a win tonight when they play the in-form Bulldogs in a bid to move from the bottom of the ladder.
These two teams met back in round six, where Wentworthville won the match 25-18, and Bulldogs coach Andy Patmore believed his team learned some valuable lessons from that loss.
“Their forwards went straight through us,” said Patmore. “We’ve really got to defend well through the middle, and if we do that we will give ourselves a chance.”
With various Bulldogs players unavailable for first grade due to State of Origin commitments, the VB NSW Cup side will run out against Wentworthville with a vastly different side to what they’ve had over the past month.
“Obviously with Origin on this week we’ll have a fair few team changes,” said Patmore. “We’ll need to adapt to those new boys coming in.”
Since the round six loss, the Bulldogs underwent a difficult stretch before bouncing back with a three-match win streak.
Patmore believes overcoming adversity for a successful run of wins has improved the Bulldogs’ confidence.
“Some of those earlier results were a bit all over the place,” said Patmore. “[But] we’ve had a more consistent approach to our games in the past few weeks.”
The Bulldogs do not have the most flattering defensive record but they will be up against the worst attack in the competition in Wentworthville who are coming off a 16-0 defeat at the hands of Penrith last week.
Wentworthville can move up from last place with a win, while the Bulldogs could break into the top four depending on other results. It’s a vital match for both sides.
Illawarra Cutters v Newtown Jets: Cutters look for back-to-back wins
(WIN Stadium, Saturday June 13, 3:00pm)
The Illawarra Cutters and Newtown Jets sitting mid-table on 14 competition points as they face off this Saturday in Wollongong.
The two sides met in round nine, which the Jets won 26-10.
Despite the result, Cutters coach Scott Logan made it clear that they will be focusing on themselves this week, rather than the opposition.
“Most weeks we focus on ourselves,” says Logan. “We have a quick look at the opposition and we know their strengths and weaknesses, but every week it’s about us improving as a group.
“We’re not going to concentrate too much on them [Newtown]. We spent a lot of the week as a group working up some things that weren’t good last week.”
Both sides have had no problem with scoring points this season, and Logan says there are various attacking players from Newtown that they will have to keep an eye on.
“Some of their danger players, we played them in round nine,” said Logan. “Todd Murphy led them around reasonably well and Nathan Gardner had a very good game against us.
“There’s a number of players in that team plus a couple of inclusions that weren’t there last time as well that we’ll have to keep an eye on.”
With a tight VB NSW Cup competition, a win for the Cutters could see them advance into the top four but a loss could see them drop to as low as eighth.
The Jets have been struggling for consistency in 2015 as they sit on the fringe of the top eight. A win for them will move them up the ladder towards the top four and a step closer to fulfilling their potential.
Wests Tigers v Manly Sea Eagles: Both sides eye top eight
(Campbelltown Stadium, Saturday June 13, 3:00pm)
Campbelltown Stadium will see the desperate Wests Tigers host the Manly Sea Eagles who are coming off a strong win in Tamworth.
Wests Tigers have given up three halftime leads in a row in what is a frustrating run of form, and Sea Eagles coach Luke Williamson understands that they will be determined to put in an 80-minute performance.
“[Wests Tigers] will be desperate on the weekend,” says Williamson. “It will be interesting to see who plays but they’re strong and they’ve got some great depth in that club; they’ve got players popping up everywhere.
“I think we’ve just got to focus on ourselves and try to contain them as best as we can.”
The Sea Eagles are languishing at the bottom of the ladder but are coming off a 30-10 win against North Sydney last week. Williamson is confident his side is constantly improving.
“It’s just a progression,” said Williamson. “We are always looking to improve.
“Our biggest thing has been finishing off a game, We’ve been the victim of that. We showed [good signs] against Norths but Wests Tigers are a different ball game.”
Wests Tigers’ first half of the season has been inconsistent with both winning and losing streaks.
They have shown that they have the calibre of players to beat any team in the competition if they put in an 80-minute performance- something they have lacked over the past month.
The Sea Eagles have only managed four wins for the season but lost three extremely close games against strong teams, which proves that they are not a side to be taken lightly,
Penrith Panthers v Newcastle Knights: Grand Final rivals reunite
(Pepper Stadium, Saturday June 13, 3:00pm)
Competition front-runners Penrith Panthers meet again with the fourth-placed Newcastle Knights in a replay of the 2014 VB NSW Cup Grand Final.
It’s the second time around this season for the Grand Finalists after the Knights stole last-minute 18-16 victory in round four with a fortuitous penalty goal.
“We haven’t played for the full 80 minutes yet this year and we’re going to need to against a team who I think are the competition favorites, or the team to beat,” says Panthers coach Garth Brennan.
“I think they’re one of the best sides in the competition so it’s going to be a good challenge. They beat us earlier in the year and it would be nice to turn the tables on them, but at the end of the day we just need to play for 80 minutes if we’re any chance of beating Newcastle.”
Brennan insists they will be focusing on their own performance in overturning their previous encounter.
“We’ve got to play well ourselves,” said Brennan. “I’m not too concerned about trying to shut Newcastle down; it’s more about us playing well.”
The Knights have been in every game this season and Brennan is wary of how dangerous they are across the park.
The Panthers boast the best defensive record in the competition, conceding 39 points less than the second-best Wyong. They will need to maintain their defence against the Knights who boast attacking weapons all across the park including Jake Mamo and Chanel Mata’utia.
“Defence is attitude,” says Brennan. “I judge the attitude of the team on how their defence is and how hard they want to work for each other to be the best defensive side at this time of the year.”
It’s set to be an absolute blockbuster with the two sides destined to meet again later this season.
Mounties v North Sydney: Mounties looking for answers against Bears
(Aubrey Keech Reserve, Saturday June 13, 3:00pm)
Mounties will be desperate to break their form slump this weekend when they take on the North Sydney Bears at Aubrey Keech Reserve.
After seven rounds, Mounties were the form team in the competition by winning all seven games, but have only managed one win since then.
Bears have won three from six matches since round seven, with two of those against top-four sides.
Although Mounties rank better in attack and defense, the Bears will enter the match with plenty of confidence after beating competition heavyweights, the Panthers and Roos.
A key matchup is in the halves with Josh McCrone and Mitch Cornish for Mounties up against young-gun Cody Walker and Darren Nicholls.
Both halves combinations have been in dynamic form for their respective clubs, and this weekend is set to see a fascinating battle between the two.
Cornish and McCrone boast 17 linebreak assists between them, while Cody Walker already has six try assists despite missing the first handful of games for the season.
The Bears are currently sitting in second last but an upset win could move them closer to the top eight, while Mounties will be determined to regain some form before worrying about ladder positions.
Despite Mounties poor recent form, they still sit in second position and a win will keep them in touch with the Panthers who are currently first.
New Zealand Warriors v Wyong Roos: Roos aim to make it four in a row
(Mt Smart Stadium, Saturday June 13, 3:40pm (AEST time), 5:40pm(NZ time)
Seven wins and five losses is the record for both of these teams heading into this Round 14 clash across the ditch.
The Warriors boasted a five-from-five home record for 2015 until last week when they were completely dominated in New Zealand by the Bulldogs. They will be out for revenge against an in-form Wyong Roos side.
Roos coach Rip Taylor understands the challenge of playing the Warriors in New Zealand.
“A lot of young guys haven’t travelled,” says Taylor. “The Warriors are at home over there, [and] they’re on their big stage this Saturday with their family around.
“They’ll be pumped after the loss last weekend.”
The Warriors have always been a rather adventurous team when it comes to attack and are incredibly dangerous on their day.
Taylor fully understands the style of play the Warriors possess and says his side will need to shut this part of their game plan down.
“They will use their frame and size, so you’ve just got to worry about their second-phase play.”
The Roos are currently on a three-match winning streak and Taylor is pleased with the way they are performing coming into this week’s challenge against the Warriors.
“We’re reasonably happy with where we are at the moment,” says Taylor. “[The players] have dug themselves up a bit and are starting to get a few good combinations.”
The third-versus-fifth clash will certainly have a big impact on the standings with the winner claiming a top-four spot.
In attack, the sides only have four points separating them but the Roos hold a stronger defensive record, conceding 117 points less than the Warriors.