Mounties v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Aubrey Keech Reserve, Friday 5 August
Referee: Liam Nicholls
Touch Judges: Mathew Damaso, Faye Lehane
Broadcast LIVE on SteeleSports.com.au
Can anyone stop the ladder-leading Mounties? The Raiders feeder side is three wins clear at the top of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ladder and the red-hot competition favourites. With a side that this week features the likes of Sam Williams, Paul Vaughan, Shaun Fensom and Jarrad Kennedy, it’s not hard to see why!
The 10th-placed Bulldogs, though, need to kick into gear if they’re to feature in the finals series. At this stage they’re just one point out of the top eight – but a loss here could prove pivotal. If they’re to cause an upset, look for centre Kerrod Holland to once again run riot – he crossed for four tries last week.
Newcastle Knights v Newtown Jets
Hunter Stadium, Saturday 6 August
Referee: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
Touch Judges: Darian Furner, Benjamin Teague
Broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports
How the reigning premiers have slumped in 2016. Last year’s champions Newcastle are sitting in last position on the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ladder following just one win all season. Their side, however, barely resembles last year’s grand-final line-up – only Jaelen Feeney remains from the side that trounced Wyong to claim the title. They’ll be desperate to finish the year on a positive.
The Newtown Jets, however, have much more to play for – they currently sit in fifth position and a win, coupled with a Penrith victory over the Wests Tigers, would see them surge into the top four. Look for the unnamed Fa’amanu Brown to come back into the side with James Maloney free to play for the Sharks.
Illawarra Cutters v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
WIN Stadium, Saturday 6 August
Referee: Daniel Olford
Touch Judges: Mark Bohan, James Vella
Broadcast LIVE on SteeleSports.com.au
Remarkably, the Sea Eagles, with just five wins all season, have a mathematical chance of making the top eight – but expect that finals flame to be extinguished by the Cutters on Saturday.
Featuring the likes of Levi Dodd, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Shannon Wakeman, Josh McCrone and Drew Hutchison, the Cutters should prove too strong for a Manly side that does possess livewire playmakers Isaac John and Pita Godinet.
Penrith Panthers v Wests Tigers
Pepper Stadium, Saturday 6 August
Referee: Jeff Hartup
Touch Judges: Mathew Damaso, Feras Karem
Live streamed on PenrithPanthers.com.au
The sixth-placed Panthers hose the fourth-placed Tigers in what could prove the match of the round. For the home side, this clash is pivotal – a loss could push them into eight spot with another couple of sides hot on their heels. The visitors, though, will also have plenty to play for with a victory consolidating their top-four position.
Plenty of pre-game focus will be on Robbie Farah but expect Josh Addo-Carr, Curtis Sironen, Josh Hall and Te Maire Martin to also have a significant influence.
Wyong Roos v New Zealand Warriors
Morry Breen Oval, Saturday 6 August
Referee: Ryan Jackson
Touch Judges: Jimmy Oliveira, Mitchell Stone
This is another potential cracker between two sides likely to appear in the finals series. The third-placed Warriors have been this year’s surprise packets, finally delivering on the promise they’ve shown in glimpses over the past few seasons. The eighth-placed Roos will once again rely on Tyler Cornish and Mitch Williams to lead them around the park, while the Warriors welcome back Ata Hingano who has been laid-off with a leg injury since July 9.
Wentworthville Magpies v North Sydney Bears
Ringrose Park, Sunday 7 August
Referee: Chris Treneman
Touch Judges: John Woods, Richard Daizli
Anyone looking to watch an entertaining game of footy on Sunday should look no further. This clash pitches the ninth-placed Magpies against the seventh-placed Bears – one that’ll have a huge influence on the make-up of the 2016 finals series. Norths centre Dane Neilsen and Wentworthville utility Yileen ‘Buddy’ Gordon are just two of the players worth keeping an eye on in this one.