Newtown Jets v Wyong Roos
Henson Park, Saturday 9 July
Newtown’s NRL-affiliated club Cronulla has five players involved in NSW VB Blues Origin camp – and, as a result, the Jets are down on troops for their crucial Intrust Super Premiership NSW clash with Wyong at Henson Park this weekend.
The fourth-placed Jets host the eighth-placed Roos tomorrow at 3pm and, for the home side, this match represents a challenge greater than usual.
“We’ve been down on troops recently, a number are out injured and of course there’s the flow-on effect of Origin [with Cronulla],” Newtown coach Greg Matterson tells www.NSWRL.com.au.
“By my count there are 11 new faces in the team from just four weeks ago. There’s a big impact there but there’s a big opportunity too.”
Matterson’s Jets went down to the ladder-leading Cutters in a rescheduled Round 13 clash – but the Newtown coach remains positive about his side’s potential, particularly following strong individual efforts in recent weeks despite the injury toll. The veteran mentor, too, is wary of the Rip Taylor-coached Wyong side.
“[Prop] Malakai Houma in the middle has been outstanding. He’s big, explosive, powerful and, with a bit more improvement, one to really watch,” Matterson says.
“Kurt Kara, a veteran, has also been great as has Jason Schirnack.
“[Wyong] have a couple out through Origin but they’re back at full strength pretty much too. The Roos play a very similar style to the Roosters. They’re a solid side with a good kicking game and a great kick-chase.
“This competition is really tight and every game is important.”
Matterson has called on the Jets fans to once again get behind his side.
“We’re the best-supported side in the [Intrust Super Premiership NSW] and our games have the best atmosphere,” Matterson says.
“Hopefully we get another great turn out and some decent weather – the players really feed off the backing of our fans.”
New Zealand Warriors v Illawarra Cutters
Mt Smart Stadium #2, Saturday 9 July
In what is the match of the round, the New Zealand Warriors will host the Illawarra Cutters at Mt Smart Stadium. The Warriors are coming off a tight defeat to the Wests Tigers last week, but any game in New Zealand is a danger-game, especially with crafty halfback Mason Lino in scintillating form. The Cutters stormed their way to the top of the competition ladder last week with a strong second-half performance against Newtown to win 38-14, and a firming as true premiership contenders.
Mounties v Newcastle Knights
Aubrey Keech Reserve, Saturday 9 July
The Knights are going through the season from hell, but are showing more fighting spirit than a team out of finals contention should be. They have only managed a single win in the early stages of the season, but have been well in the game in their past few encounters, and could be considered unlucky to have not recorded a win during that time. Mounties on the other hand are enjoying a very successful season, despite losing arguably their best player – Mitch Barnett – a few weeks ago, ironically to the Knights. They are sitting comfortably in the top four, and are refreshed after enjoying a bye next week.
Manly Sea Eagles v Wentworthville Magpies
Brookvale Oval, Saturday 9 July
Manly are looking to redeem their worst defeat of the season when they take on Wentworthville this week, as they certainly have a lot to prove after going down 58-14 in their last match against Wyong. They are a much better team than that, but it will be no easy feat considering the team they are up against are in a similar position. This match is tenth versus eleventh, and while they are still in finals contention, this game is a must win for both sides. The Magpies are coming off a great win last week, snapping a nine-match losing streak against Penrith, mostly thanks to the addition of Jeff Robson.
North Sydney Bears v Penrith Panthers
North Sydney Oval, Saturday 9 July
Two teams with plenty to play for are the North Sydney Bears and the Penrith Panthers, as they both sit in the middle of the ladder on 20 competition points each. The Bears have endured two tight and frustrating defeats in the past three weeks, but are fresh off a bye, while the Panthers have been in red-hot form despite going down to the Magpies last week. Damien Cook has been named at fullback for the Bears, an exciting addition to the squad, while the Panthers are in the second week of life without Jamie Soward.
Canterbury Bulldogs v Wests Tigers
ANZ Stadium, Saturday 9 July
The mid-season resurgence of the Canterbury Bulldogs continues with the Wests Tigers this week, as they play at ANZ Stadium while knocking on the door of the top eight. Despite being three competition points from eighth position, the Bulldogs sit in ninth spot, and are in a much better position to where they were at the start of the season, not having recorded a victory until Round 10. The Tigers on the other hand have had to deal with the loss of the lethal left-side combination of Josh Drinkwater and Asipeli Fine in recent times, but still sit in fifth spot with a healthy 22 competition points, and are coming off a fantastic Josh Addo-Carr inspired win against the Warriors.