Wyong Roos v Mounties
Morrie Breen Oval, Saturday 25 June
Wyong coach Rip Taylor knows his team needs to be on guard this week when they face the Intrust Super Premiership NSW front-runners Mounties.
While the men from Mount Pritchard have slipped in recent weeks following defeats to the Sea Eagles (22-10 last week) and Bears (26-16 in Round 14), Taylor knows they’re ladder-leaders for a reason.
“They’ve had a couple of lean weeks recently but I’m expecting they’ll be up for this clash,” Taylor tells NSWRL.com.au.
“They’ve been very consistent for a few seasons now, and no doubt this year they’re looking to put some ice cream on their cake.
“Everybody [in their side is a strength], they’ve got quality right across the park. Their go-forward, though, is a particular strength and that’s something we’ll need to look to stop.”
Wyong’s main man is hoping his team starts to find their groove with the finals just 10 weeks away.
“We’ve had a mixed season to date, finding it hard to get consistency with players coming and going but that’s par for the course in [Intrust Super Premiership NSW],” Taylor says.
“We need to focus on improving our defence – we’ve got to fall in love with both aspects of the game.”
Newcastle Knights v Illawarra Cutters
Hunter Stadium, Saturday 25 June
Broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports 501
The 12th-placed Knights host the fourth-placed Cutters in this week’s Fox Sports match – but most eyes will be focused on a former Kangaroo and VB Blue lining up for Newcastle.
Akuila Uate, who has played five Origins for NSW and five Tests for Australia, has been relegated to the Intrust Super Premiership NSW – and, with his future at the Knights rumoured to be under a cloud, will be desperate to put his best foot forward and show off his wares.
If Uate finds his feet, he could just blow the Cutters away, even after they’ve enjoyed a rich vein of form in recent weeks, including victories over Wenty (24-12 in Round 15) and the Wests Tigers (44-14 in Round 14).
New Zealand Warriors v North Sydney Bears
Mt Smart Stadium #2, Saturday 25 June
Are the Warriors finally understanding what makes them tick? That’s the question that will be answered if Stacey Jones’ side records another victory at Mount Smart this Saturday.
The Warriors, with a win, could once again surge to the top of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ladder this weekend.
Jones will be asking for his team to push aside last week’s shocker against the Jets at Henson and rediscover the form that saw them win seven consecutive matches entering Round 15. If they find their winning formula – and the secret to success – the Warriors will confirm themselves as arguably the most dangerous team in the competition.
North Sydney, coached by rising mentor Ben Gardiner and featuring the likes of Ed Murphy and Brad Deitz, however, will be no easy beats.
Penrith Panthers v Newtown Jets
St Marys Leagues Stadium, Saturday 25 June
Broadcast LIVE on Hawkesbury Radio 89.9 FM
Broadcast LIVE on SteeleSports.com.au
This could well be branded the match of the round, with the prowling Panthers hosting the soaring Jets.
Penrith, led by new coach Steve Georgallis, currently sit in fifth position on the competition table, with Newtown in third – this battle could go down to the wire!
With stars including George Jennings, Will Smith, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak and Jamie Soward (Panthers) and Nu Brown, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Mitch Brown and Josh Cleeland (Jets) taking the field, expect this to be an open, exciting, attacking contest.
Look for Sene-Lefao, in particular, to have a big influence – sources tell us Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan has been impressed with the power forward’s improved performances over recent weeks and could be featuring in the NRL in the rounds ahead.
Wentworthville Magpies v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Ringrose Park, Sunday 26 June
After a strong start to the season that saw them win four of their opening five matches, Wenty, who last week slumped to their seventh consecutive loss, desperately need to rediscover their secret herbs and spices.
Get loud and proud, Magpies fans. Your team needs you now.
There are a number of players who can make or break this game, including Honeti Tuha, Jake Butler-Fleming, Bureta Faraimo, Yileen Gordon, Chase Stanley, Harry Siejka and Lloyd Perrett.
This is a crucial game for both the Magpies (currently in ninth place) and the Bulldogs (currently in 10th place). Two points here is vital to both clubs’ finals prospects.