Mounties v North Sydney Bears: Mounties Enjoy TV Prominence With Bears
GIO Stadium, Saturday 26 March
Live Broadcast on FOX Sports Channel 501
For the fourth straight week to open the season, Mounties will feature in the FOX Sports live match of the round, going up against the North Sydney Bears.
Mounties scored an emphatic 42-18 victory with the score line not reflecting Mounties’ dominance over the Newcastle Knights.
The Bears also earned a spirited 24-12 win at WIN Stadium over a powerful Illawarra Cutters side.
“It should be a tough contest with the Bears, It’s always a tough contest,” Mounties coach Steve Antonelli told NSWRL.com.au. “I’m looking forward to seeing where we’re at against a really good side.
“You know they’re going to keep coming no matter the score or what part of the game. They keep coming at you.
““We always know it’s going to be tough against them. They’re always physical and it’s always a tough encounter – we know what we’re up for.”
Both sides enter the match winning two of their first three games after Mounties’ bounce back triumph over the Knights following their loss to the Wyong Roos at home in Round 2.
“We have to be prepared to play the full 80 minutes and not play in patches,” Antonelli said. “That was one of of our improvements last week where we were a lot better.
“A bit more discipline and self discipline with the players because that’s the only time we get ourselves into trouble is with unforced errors…. we get ourselves into trouble every now and then. We made a big improvement on that last week.”
While Antonelli asserts his sole focus is on victory, there’s no doubt North Sydney are savoring the live coverage for their club, determined to build on their win last week.
“We don’t mention that too much; It’s about their own performances more than anything – that’s all I worry about,” Antonelli said. “Playing at the big stadiums helps; it gets the boys up when they’re playing at a big stadium – that’s for sure. TV wise, I don’t know if it does anything for them. It’s all the same for me – I just want to win.”
Manly Sea Eagles v Newtown Jets: Manly Aim To Compound Jets Loss
Brookvale Oval, Saturday 26 March
Listen LIVE via Steele Sports Radio at www.steelesports.com.au
The Manly Sea Eagles are hoping their unlikely last-minute 26-24 win over the Canterbury Bulldogs is the breakthrough victory for the rest of the season.
Manly tackle the Newtown Jets who return from New Zealand with a displeasing 20-18 loss to the Warriors after squandering an 18-4 halftime lead.
Sea Eagles coach Luke Williamson is determined to build upon the side’s first win of the season and has his eye on a number of Jets standout players, pushing to claim NRL positions.
“They certainly have some great ability – especially through the halves with (Fa’Amanu) Brown and (Josh) Cleeland, they’ve got great versatility there,” Williamson told NSWRL.com.au. “Up front with Junior Roqica and Jason Schirnack, who’s very good at 13, we have to be quite good to contain those guys.
“It was good to win. It showed the guys what we’re trying to work on will work. It’s just being persistent – in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, the faces do change each week. It was good, but it’s on again this weekend.”
While they have their hands full with a talent-loaded Newtown team, Manly are more than capable of completing the challenge.
“Pita Godinet, our half, is pretty important to the way things are within the side,” Williamson said. “To have some experienced players was good as well. Blake Leary was good (last weekend), Luke Burgess was great up front as was Darcy Lussick. To have that depth of player was great.”
Wests Tigers v Canterbury Bulldogs: Consistency Key Against Struggling Dogs
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday 26 March
It’s been a mini rollercoaster for Wests Tigers to open the season with two solid wins sandwiching a very ugly 44-6 loss to the Warriors at Leichhardt Oval in Round 2. To their credit, and possibly a promising indicator of character this season, Wests Tigers responded with an impressive 44-16 victory last week over major contenders, the Wyong Roos.
“(We’re) 2-1, a bit up and down,” Wests Tigers coach Paul Stringer told NSWRL.com.au. “We put in a good performance Round 1, Round 2 was very disappointing.
“Last week, I was really rapt with our performance again. It’s just a matter of consistently playing well and not be one of those teams that are going to be playing good one week and thinking they’ve done the job and can relax.”
The Wests Tigers cannot afford to relax against a winless Canterbury Bulldogs, still desperate for their first win after a bitter last-minute 26-24 loss where they led for 79 minutes over the Manly Sea Eagles.
Stringer is certainly not taking them lightly, citing altering lineups as an ongoing challenge in the competition.
“Every side in this competition is tough – It’s a tough competition,” Stringer said.
“It’s hard to gauge in this competition till you get a few games into it to see who’s going to be the good sides and the not-so-good sides. Sometimes it’s really hard to prepare for who you’re playing against.
“As long as we worry about our backyard, get our preparation right and do the right things, we are in for a crack.”
Illawarra Cutters v Penrith Panthers: Pivotal Early Season Tests
WIN Stadium, Sunday 27 March
Listen LIVE via Hawkesbury Radio on 89.9 FM or at www.hawkesburyradio.com.au
This week shapes as a largely important match for both sides.
The Penrith Panthers will be fighting to avoid falling to a 1-3 record whereas the Illawarra Cutters are motivated to jump to a 3-1 start, particularly after their first loss of the season to the North Sydney Bears last weekend.
“Winning two of three of your games isn’t a bad start - It’s where we want to be but we set ourselves a goal for the first four games and want to see the players respond to a loss last week,” Cutters coach Jason Demetriou told NSWRL.com.au. “I’m really interested to see how we go this week.
“Obviously I don’t think we were prepared for the physical encounter (last week). I don’t think we respected the Bears enough.
“It’s not about the winning and losing at the moment. It’s more about our performance. We felt in our performance in the first half against the Bears, we were way below the levels that we set ourselves at the start of the season. We need to make sure we get back to that against a very strong side in the Panthers.”
Penrith battled in their 30-14 defeat to the Wentworthville Magpies without star playmaker Te Maire Martin who enjoyed a sensational NRL debut – scoring a try, converting the levelling score and kicking the match-winning field goal – that was the catalyst for a remarkable win over the highly-touted Brisbane Broncos.
“They (Penrith) play very similarly to their first-grade side,” Demetriou said. “High tempo and a fast game of footy. They like to keep the offloads and play a lot of second phase. It’ll really test us defensively and they’ve got some exciting young players. It’s important we defend really well stay in every contest and put some of our own shape on to test the Panthers defensive line.”
Warriors v Wyong Roos: Legend Lauitiiti Leads Warriors
Mt Smart Stadium, Sunday 27 March
1:00pm (NZ), 11am(AEST)
Cult legend, Ali Lauitiiti, returned to the club where he made his name for the first time in 12 years. The 36-year-old international veteran brings a wealth of experience – including 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Super League titles – and is already proving a roaring success.
Trailing 18-4 at halftime last weekend against the Newtown Jets, Lauitiiti provided the match heroics with a two-try performance for the Warriors to steal a valuable 20-18 win at home.
“Ali brings a lot of composure,” Warriors coach Stacey Jones told NSWRL.com.au. “We’ve got some pretty young guys – four or five guys who are eligible to play in the Under-20s and to have someone like Ali around them is really valuable to these guys’ development.
“He’s got a calmness about him. Ali, even though he’s 36, he still acts like a 21-year-old off the field, so he can relate to these players.”
Lauitiiti is a big part of the side this season, and although it’s been a rocky start for the 2-1 Warriors, Jones is satisfied with their progress as they prepare for the Wyong Roos.
“The first game against the (Illawarra) Cutters was always going to be a difficult one,” Jones said. “Our preparation isn’t as ideal as other teams. We don’t get to have any trials which was difficult, and the heat found us out. In the second week, we came back against Wests Tigers and played some really good football against a very good team.
“We were fortunate to have a good second half defensively against Newtown. All in all, I’m pretty please with where we’re at and how the team is travelling at the moment.”
The Roos’ season is yet to click just yet. Claiming just one win, Wyong have shown glimpses of the side that marched into last year’s grand final but struggled in their 44-16 defeat to Wests Tigers in Round 3.
“Wyong would be disappointed in the game against Wests Tigers on the weekend,” Jones said. “They feed the Roosters (NRL side) so they’re going to be down on troops but players step up. I’m expecting a team that’s going to be full of energy and enthusiasm that will rip into us and we have to match it.”
Wentworthville Magpies v Newcastle Knights: Hot-Streak Wenty Keep Rolling
Ringrose Park, Sunday 27 March
Wentworthville have exploded out of the gates with a blistering run of form to remain the only undefeated team atop the competition ladder with a perfect 3-from-3 record.
But don’t expect new Magpies coach Joe Grima to be looking at the standings.
“I didn’t know that; I’m not too fussed about the ladder at the moment,” Grima told NSWRL.com.au. “I didn’t even know we’re the only undefeated team left in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW. For the first month, it’s all about us, Parramatta Wenty, and getting our systems right.”
Rather unexpectedly, the Magpies have set the early season competition benchmark with Grima praising his players following an impressive 30-14 victory over the Penrith Panthers last week.
“We keep raising the bar and it’s been driven by the players themselves,” Grima said. “It’s very fortunate the expectations are player-based more than coach-based. They’re really enjoying their footy at the moment.
“We set the bar high. We still have things to improve and while we keep improving game by game, it’s very pleasing at the moment.
“The thing that pleases me the most is the players are leading with their actions. The belief or leading from actions has come from within the group…. I don’t want to say the word culture because it’s used very loosely but we’ve created our own environment from within and everyone’s buying into challenging each other.”
Wenty put their unbeaten start on the line against a winless Newcastle Knights, desperate for a breakthrough win following a difficult 42-18 loss at Hunter Stadium to Mounties.
“They haven’t won a game for lack of trying, I can tell you that,” Grima said. “I’ve watched their last three games and it’s not through lack of trying. They’re trying as hard as they can, they’ve just been a little bit unlucky and unfortunate with the results. But I can tell you they’re busting their gut trying.”
It’s exciting times not just for Wenty but also for their respective NRL club side, the Parramatta Eels who are also enjoying a hot start to the season.
“The rule of thumb is if your Intrust Super Premiership NSW is healthy and doing well, it’s retrospective to your NRL team.
“If you look at the last couple of seasons, the successful NRL teams mostly have a successful and injury-free Intrust Super Premiership NSW side. Penrith are a classic example where two years ago they had that super hot side that won the competition (in 2014) and their NRL team, if you ask the experts, overachieved that same year. Because they had such a good reserve grade side, it just complimented their NRL side.”