Newcastle Knights v Canterbury Bulldogs
Newcastle Sportsground #2, Sunday 3 July
The Canterbury Bulldogs and Newcastle Knights had to deal with horror starts to the year in terms of results, but the Belmore boys are back on track, having won four of their past five matches.
The Knights are dealing with on-field personnel issues that affect all grades throughout the club, but Bulldogs coach Andy Patmor, knows his team can’t dwell on their opposition too much.
“We can’t worry too much about Newcastle, obviously they’re in a bit of a situation,” Patmore tells NSWRL.com.au.
“It’s a bit of a bizarre week with players training with [the NRL side] playing on Thursday, so we’ll have a couple of sessions together and just focus on being us to continue the good feel and add a bit of confidence.
“We’ve just got to continue, we’re four from five.”
The Bulldogs are coming off a fantastic performance against Wentworthville, and while the Knights lost to Illawarra last week, they showed positive signs and went down fighting.
Patmore hopes to take that form to Hunter Stadium, but admits in the first 40 minutes of football, everything went right.
“We just had one of those halves of footy where everything just stuck, the boys played some really attacking footy, scored some great tries,” Patmore said.
“Wenty couldn’t do a thing right. It was one of those halves where it was just perfect, the boys prepared really well, but it’s always hard to keep up that intensity.
“To Wenty’s credit they stuck it to us and gave it to us a bit. It was just one of those games.”
The Bulldogs will certainly look to continue their mid-season resurgence with Newcastle this week, but unlike the Knights, they have had the luxury of recruiting some quality players.
“Our edges have been good, we’ve had Lamar Liolevave, Asipeli Fine last week, we had a couple of add-ins to our squad,” Patmore said.
“Having Chase Stanley has been a bonus for us, so we’ve had a couple of quality players and the boys are really happy in what they’re doing.
“We weren’t far away early in the year, and there’s a good feel at the moment.”
Newtown Jets v Illawarra Cutters – Rescheduled Rd13 game
Henson Park, Friday 1 July
Broadcast LIVE on SteeleSports.com.au
The fourth-placed Jets will be desperate to return to the winners’ circle in the first night-time match at Henson Park in a decade after their last-start shellacking at the hands of the Panthers.
Newtown last week lost 60-6 to a Jamie Soward-inspired Penrith side – and will want a victory to rediscover their confidence.
This rescheduled Round 13 clash won’t be easy though: the Illawarra Cutters have won their past four games and are now in third place on the ISP NSW competition table. The Jets are also battling a number of injury concerns.
The home side will be without Josh Cleeland and Kurt Capewell who failed to finish the Penrith match, as well as Jacob Gagan and Junior Roqica who continue to recover from hamstring and foot injuries respectively. Cleeland has an ankle problem while Capewell is suffering a knee complaint, with both expecting to miss just one game.
New Zealand Warriors v Wests Tigers
Mt Smart Stadium, Saturday 2 July
Live on Fox Sports
The second-placed Warriors have the opportunity to once again stamp their authority on the competition in the Fox Sports Match of the Round clash against the Tigers across the ditch.
Stacey Jones’ side were last-start one-point winners over the Bears but now will be without the game management of NRL grand final playmaker Jeff Robson, who has returned to Sydney for personal reasons.
“I’ve really enjoyed coming over to New Zealand to be a part of this club. It’s a great set-up and I’ve appreciated the opportunities I’ve had,” Robson said.
“I would have liked to see my contract through but in the end my family is far more important. I haven’t seen a lot of them and I’m extremely grateful (coach) Cappy (Andrew McFadden), Tony, Jim (Doyle) and everyone else has been so understanding.
“I wish the boys and the coaching staff all the best for the rest of the season. I’ll be taking a special interest in their progress.”
Robson has since announced he will join the Parramatta Eels for the remainder of the year.
The Paul Stringer-coached Tigers have speed to burn in their outside backs and size aplenty in the forwards, representing a significant challenge for the home side.
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles v Wyong Roos
Brookvale Oval, Saturday 2 July
Broadcast LIVE on SteeleSports.com.au
This is a crunch match – one that pits the 10th-placed Sea Eagles against the eighth-placed Roos.
If Manly are to leapfrog teams in the lead-up to the finals and go deep into the Intrust Super Premiership NSW season, this is a game they need to win.
This game will be won or lost on the brilliance of four players – Sea Eagles Pita Godinet and Feleti Mateo and Roos Omar Slaimankhel and Mitch Williams.
Whichever team can shut down their opponent's most-dangerous weapons will go on to win this match – and move closer towards a start in the 2016 finals series.
Wentworthville Magpies v Penrith Panthers
Ringrose Park, Sunday 3 July
The home side are desperate for a win after a string of eight losses on the trot – and this could be their time to shine.
The Panthers have lost arguably their most influential player in Jamie Soward, who was granted a release earlier this week to pursue opportunities in the northern hemisphere.
Wenty will need to keep a close eye on two men who crossed for multiple tries last week - Corey Harawira-Naera, who scored a hat-trick, and Zach Dockar-Clay who crossed for a double – as well as high-flyer winger and Aussie rules convert Josh Hall.
With the Magpies now in 11th position and two wins outside the top eight, it’s now or never for the home team.