Wests Tigers v Warriors: Warriors face must-win Wests Tigers
Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Saturday 15th August, 12.40pm
Watch Live on Fox Sports on Channel 501

Tied for first-place, the Warriors are eager to make amends after missing out on a golden opportunity to take sole leadership in the VB NSW Cup last weekend.

Losing 32-22 against the North Sydney Bears, the Warriors prepare for their third-straight road match against the 11th-placed Wests Tigers, who are desperate to keep their narrow finals hopes alive.

“We were out-enthused last week against the Bears,” Warriors coach Stacey Jones said. “We played a team who wanted it more. In many periods, they did the little things better than us. This week, we better do those things better against a Tigers side who want to make the eight.

“We expect them to come out enthusiastically. Their kick chase, line speed – all those attitude things will be with 100% enthusiasm. We have to match those things.”

It’s a must-win encounter for Wests Tigers if they are to remain any chance of reaching the finals. The odds are stacked against the Wests Tigers who have the second-worst attack in the VB NSW Cup but they will take confidence knowing they are capable of the unlikely upset win over the Warriors.

The Warriors have lost two of their past three matches after a season-high four-game win streak. Dangerous in attack, the Warriors hold the third-best record for points scored but have the third-worst defence – and second-worst of the top-eight sides.

While the Warriors hope to rectify that statistic starting this week, many weekly line-up changes haven’t helped the cause.

“We were pretty soft last week,” Jones said. “Our team changes through injuries and first-grade line ups. Defence is always the first thing to look at. We’re not the best but team changes make it hard to get that cohesion. At the start of the season we were good but three heavy losses puts it in perspective.”

It’s all on the line this weekend in the FOX Sports Match of the Round.

 

Newtown v Penrith: Revenge on Panthers’ Minds
Henson Park, Saturday 15th August, 3:00pm
Listen Live on Radiohub.com.au

It’s been a while since the Penrith Panthers lost 24-8 in their last meeting with the Newtown Jets in round three.

The defending premiers get the opportunity to extract revenge by ending the Jets’ faint finals hopes.

The Jets’ finals chances took a severe hit after conceding a late try in a 22-all draw with Wests Tigers last weekend. There’s no doubt the Jets will be desperate to score a much-needed win in front of the Newtown faithful at Henson Park.

“It’ll be a tough challenge,” Panthers coach Garth Brennan said. “We lost against them in the first round and we had more strike power then. They have plenty of experience – It’ll be a tough assignment for the young guys in the side but we’ll have to compete.”

With the competition’s best defence, the Panthers remarkably sit in a tie for first place while battling with a significant number of players missing throughout the season. Without several of their key players, the Panthers courageously rallied from an early 16-0 deficit against the top-of-the-table Mounties.

“I was really proud of the effort last week especially with a depleted line up,” Brennan said. “We had five young kids come up from the NYC and the side showed plenty of character to come back from 16-0 down before halftime.”

Although the Panthers possess the third-worst attack, it’s not an alarming concern according to Brennan.

“As I’ve said all year, it’s about continuity in the spine and halves,” Brennan said. “We’ve had so many different combinations that it makes it really hard but that’s part of the VB NSW Cup.”

 

Manly v Canterbury: Bulldogs Look To Roll On
Brookvale Oval, Saturday 15th August,
3:00pm

The Bulldogs and Sea Eagles have plenty to play for this week, with both sides determined to earn consecutive wins.

The Bulldogs sit in sixth place – four points behind fourth – and would love the opportunity for a valuable top-four finish. However, they face a tough task against the ninth-placed Sea Eagles who are going for their fourth-straight win in a late-season bid to make the finals.

“Manly at Brookvale – it’s tough going there,” said Bulldogs coach Andy Patmore. “We’ll have to be really good and we know there are areas we need to improve on.”

Manly piled on 22 unanswered points to overcome a 16-12 halftime deficit to convincingly beat the Wentworthville Magpies 34-20 at Ringrose Park.

Only outside the top eight on point differential, Manly’s finals chances largely lie on their own shoulders as they face the Bulldogs, Wentworthville and the Knights in the last three rounds of the regular season.

The Bulldogs toppled the league-leading Wyong Roos 29-22 last weekend as they look for late-season momentum of their own after bouncing back from consecutive losses – including a demoralising last-minute 35-34 loss against the Newcastle Knights where they lead 34-22 with 12 minutes remaining.

“We needed to be a bit tougher on ourselves,” Patmore said. “That Newcastle loss was horrendous. We’ve settled back in and hopefully we can get on a bit of a roll again.

“(Wyong) have been playing some really good football. Not only were they on top of the comp but were playing great footy too. It was a very hard-fought win and I’m very proud of the boys.”

Turning attention to Manly, Patmore knows that standings mean little in the most wide-open race in VB NSW Cup history.

“It’s a comp where everyone can beat everyone,” Patmore said. “If you don’t play well you’re going to get beat.”

 

North Sydney v Newcastle: Old-school Rivalry in Top Eight
North Sydney Oval, Saturday 15th August, 3.00pm

Two of the VB NSW Cup’s most in-form sides – Newcastle Knights and North Sydney Bears – go head to head in a mouth-watering top-eight clash.

The red-hot Bears are on a roll after lifting themselves from the bottom of the ladder into the top eight, while the fifth-placed Knights are on a two-game win streak, wining three of their past four games.

Winners of their past three matches, all coming against top-eight sides – Illawarra Cutters, Canterbury Bulldogs and the Warriors – the Bears have gained plenty of attention with many stating them as genuine premiership contenders.

The Knights have quietly snuck into fifth place and appear to be building at the right time of the season with just three rounds before the finals.

It’s a valuable opportunity for the Bears as they test their threatening attack against the third-best defence in the Knights.

Be sure to Fill the Hill in a blockbuster Saturday afternoon at North Sydney Oval.

 

Wentworthville v Wyong: Ex-Coach Tips Wenty Fighting Spirit
Morry Breen Oval, Saturday 15th August, 3.00pm

Although the Wentworthville Magpies are virtually out of finals contention, Wyong Roos coach Rip Taylor knows from inside experience that Wenty will still be fighting. Taylor coached the Magpies to NSW Cup premiership success in 2008 in a record-equaling 104-minute Grand Final marathon.

From my history with Wenty, I’m tipping they don’t want to finish down the bottom of the ladder,” Taylor said. “I’m tipping that whoever has to play them – and we play them twice in the next three weeks – Wenty will come with their gloves on for sure.”

Now with Wyong, Taylor is steering the Roos for a major tilt in this year’s finals after last week’s deflating 29-22 loss against the Bulldogs.

“You don’t want to be going into the back end of the year on a couple of losses,” said Taylor. “We’re taking this week against Wenty very very seriously.”

Wentworthville will be determined to restore some pride following their disappointing 34-20 loss against Manly. The Wenty faithful would love nothing more than to take down the competition heavyweights.

Inspirational leader Mitch Williams returned from injury last week as the Roos look to fine tune their performance before the finals begin.

“The biggest to come out of (last week) obviously was we didn’t get the two competition points which was disappointing but Mitch Williams came back after his injury. We just need to tighten a few things. It was a good game of footy overall. We just didn’t get the cookies.

“It came down to our execution. We had our chances to win the game. We need to be more patient and hopefully it will come.”

 

Illawarra v Mounties: Finals Preparation Begin
WIN Stadium, Saturday 15th August, 3.00pm

Mounties are aiming to move past their difficult 30-22 defeat to the Penrith Panthers after relinquishing an early 16-0 lead.

“(The team) knows what they did wrong,” Mounties coach Steve Antonelli said. “It’s about moving forward now. The next three weeks are big for us. Hopefully we can stay on top of the table – that’s our goal.”

It shapes as a brutal showdown between two of the biggest forward packs in the VB NSW Cup as Mounties take on the Cutters who desperately cling to eighth place.

“They’ve got a big forward pack,” Antonelli said. “We’ve looked at that and trying to match them. It’ll be a big test for our boys in the middle.

“Whoever gets on top will make it much easier for their side on the edges.”

With several teams breathing down their neck, the Cutters are in great need of the win to retain their top-eight position. The Cutters face an extremely tough run to the finals, taking on Mounties, Bulldogs and Panthers in their last three contests.

For Mounties, this week is the ideal opportunity to improve on their defence from last week.

“Moving into the semis, defence wins games,” Antonelli said. “That’s our goal moving forward – to be better defensively as a team. We’ve improved in the last month. We’ve been a lot better than in that (mid-season) period where we were up and down. Last week was a bit of a step back in that department though.”

It’s set to be a thrilling entre before the finals in