One has ground out a win in a Golden Point thriller to stay alive, while the other was dominated by a side that looks destined for the Grand Final; when the Roos meet the Wests Tigers on Sunday afternoon, anything could happen.
In a third-plays-sixth battle in Penrith, the Tigers have the upper hand with two wins over the Roos earlier in the season. A Round 3 demolition of Wyong was promising for the Tigers, with Watson Heleta, Josh Addo-Carr and Chance Peni all scoring doubles in the 44-16 scoreline, before a much closer affair in Round 10 saw the Tigers win 24-22. The men from Concord, however, have been unconvincing in recent times, with a Round 23 win over Wentworthville the only serious highlight of the past six weeks. Against the Cutters last week, they were simply on the back foot from kick-off and would go on to give their opposition 11 line breaks at UOW Jubilee Oval.
The Roos have now won four from five and have demonstrated in recent weeks the game management skills that are essential in finals football. They got away with the one-point win against Canterbury-Bankstown last week – particularly impressive given their 10-minute stint with just 12 men – but will know that improvement is necessary to defeat the top sides. A completion rate of 66% is unlikely to cut it this week and as the two worst defensive outfits left in the competition, both sides will need to clean this up as well.
With both the Tigers and Roosters out of NRL finals contention, the time has come for eligible players to return to the Intrust Super Premiership to bolster their chances. This, however, appears to have only benefitted one side; while the Roosters will send young talent back to rejoin their Holden Cup finalists, the Tigers will welcome back Michael Chee Kam, Josh Addo-Carr, Curtis Sironen and Joel Edwards. With Watson Heleta and Manaia Edwards also rejoining the squad, the Tigers will field a much stronger outfit than they did last weekend.
Where it will be won:
Completions and discipline aren’t glamorous but will need to improve for either side to win this one. A total of 16 errors for Wyong and 12 for the Wests Tigers will have been looked at by both coaches throughout the week and are key to progressing to the Preliminary Finals; as suggested above, either of the two relatively poor defensive sides should be able to build scoreboard pressure quickly simply by holding the ball.
The back three for both sides are particularly strong and have been doing a lot of legwork for the Tigers and Roos respectively. While Wyong lose a big talent in Chris Centrone – who was a late inclusion last week – the trio of Dominic Reardon, Omar Slaimankhel and Kieren Gallagher will still be aiming to replicate the 488 metres they combined for last week. On the other side of the field will be Heleta, Addo-Carr and speedster Charlie Taylor – a formidable combination who, with good service from their halves, can outpace any team in the competition on their day.
- Wests Tigers: Watson Heleta, Michael Chee Kam, Josh Addo-Carr, Curtis Sironen, Joel Edwards, Manaia Rudolph
- Wyong: Kieren Gallagher, Alex Langbridge
- Wests Tigers: Luke Sharpe, Chance Peni, Jacob Liddle, Esan Marsters, JJ Felise
- Wyong: Chris Centrone
Witness history this September at the 2016 NSWRL Grand Final Day. On Sunday, 25 September the Intrust Super Premiership NSW decider, along with the Ron Massey Cup and Sydney Shield Grand Finals, take place at Pirtek Stadium, with tickets just $10 for adults and kids under 12 free. Click here to secure your seat.