Penrith Panthers v Wentworthville Magpies
Pepper Stadium, Saturday 22 April
Edging the Bulldogs in an against-the-odds effort at Belmore last weekend, the Wentworthville Magpies will look to do the same in their Round 8 clash with the Panthers at Penrith on Saturday.
Hanging on for dear measure against a fast-finishing Canterbury-Bankstown side, the Magpies showed that on their day, they’ll have what it takes to hold their own in the 2017 Intrust Super Premiership NSW Competition.
Sadly, for Wentworthville, efforts such as those seen in Round 7 have been all too fleeting inside the opening two months of the season, and again they are set to head into their meeting with the Panthers as the outsiders.
Penrith themselves haven’t been performing of late to the true standards that they are capable, and they will gear up for the clash with Wentworthville on the back of three consecutive losses.
In team news, Corey Harawira-Naera hasn’t been named, though could revert to the Intrust Super Premiership NSW as he did as a late inclusion last Sunday.
Tyrone May has been named to start in the centres for the Panthers, with Samisoni Langi set to pair in the halves alongside the reliable Darren Nicholls.
Newtown Jets v Wyong Roos
Henson Park, Saturday April 22
Rugby League returns to Henson Park for the first time this season when the Wyong Roos travel down the M1 to square-off with the Newtown Jets.
The red-hot Roos continue to impress in both attack and defence, and they will be sure to make the Jets work for the points in front of what promises to be a bumper crowd.
Wyong sit second only to the undefeated Warriors on the Intrust Super Premiership NSW standings, brimming with confidence on the back of a thumping win over the Bears at North Sydney last Thursday.
A standout performer in that win, Connor Watson looks likely to earn an NRL recall, making the Henson visit a touch more difficult than what it had already looked likely to be for Wyong.
Newtown meanwhile rallied late to score a come-from-behind win over the Panthers in Round 7, thanks largely to the efforts of half Fa’amanu Brown’s boot.
Up-and-down throughout much of the season to date, the Jets will be eying an improved performance in the pursuit of another favorable result at the weekend.
Illawarra RLFC v Mounties RLFC
WIN Stadium, Saturday April 22
Redemption may not be on the offering though two competition points are, as the 2016 Intrust Super Premiership NSW Grand Finalists go head-to-head for the first time since last year’s decider.
It’s been a tale of contrasting fortunes to start the season for the 2016 heavyweights, Illawarra continue to feel the pinch of the Premiers tag while Mounties have impressed week-on-week to start the new competition.
Perhaps a sign of their form in recent weeks, Mounties proved their resilience with a big come-from-behind effort to share the spoils with the NZ Warriors last weekend.
Illawarra were also made to work in their win, edging the ever-improving Tigers by only six at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in Round 7.
Crossing for a double last weekend, Illawarra’s Jai Field shook off any complaints of a persistent hamstring issue, showing he has plenty of speed to burn if presented with time and space. Field’s pair of tries saw him earn a start in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Team of the Week in Round 7.
Much of the same can be said about Mounties’ fullback Zac Santo, who also bagged a brace and impressed at large in his side’s hit-out last Saturday.
Newcastle Knights v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Cessnock Sports Ground, Saturday 22 April
Newcastle went close – though not close enough – to making it four-straight Intrust Super Premiership NSW wins last weekend, falling at the feet of the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Lottoland.
It’s been a much-improved start to the campaign for the Knights, who, on the back of three consecutive losses to open the season, had bounced back to put together a hat-trick of wins in Rounds four through six.
Sitting snug nearer the bottom of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW’s all-important top eight, the Knights are one of four teams with six competition points to their names, meaning this clash with the Bulldogs is made that much more vital at the weekend.
Resuming on the back of a last-start loss also, the Bulldogs have been made to feel the pain of success in recent weeks, minus would-be regular halfback Matt Frawley who continues to impress at the NRL level.
Frawley is just one of three Bulldogs who started the season in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW before earning a first-grade start, with the Dogs still yet to find a way to offset their respective losses.
Though one of those to earn an NRL start this season, Brad Abbey has been named to return for the Bulldogs in their visit to Cessnock, with his spark set not to go astray so should he run out in this clash.
Wests Tigers v Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday 22 April
The Wests Tigers, somewhat ironically, may be drawing upon the recent form of their opponents to provide a source of inspiration in Round 8, as the resurgent Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles head to Leichhardt on Saturday.
Scoring back-to-back wins in the past fortnight, Blacktown have lifted from the bottom of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ladder following on from improved results.
The Tigers themselves have shown glimpses of what they’re capable of in the past month, though improved performances haven’t brought about a change of fortunes on the standings.
Gallant in their Round 7 defeat at the hands of the 2016 Premiers Illawarra, the Tigers will heed some confidence from that effort heading into the clash with Blacktown.
Despite crossing for a treble of tries last weekend, Blacktown’s Kelepi Manu hasn’t been named to start the match, rather set to wear the number 17 on an extended interchange bench.
North Sydney Bears v NZ Warriors
North Sydney Oval, Sunday 23 April
Rounding out the weekend’s play will be the North Sydney Bears in their encounter with the NZ Warriors.
The Bears have been faulted in recent times on the back of lackluster defensive efforts, and they will be put on notice here against a Warriors outfit that has had no qualms in finding points this season.
Still undefeated after seven rounds, the Warriors let slip a chance to keep their winning run intact against Mounties, forced to settle for a point in an exciting 30-all draw.
“It feels like a loss, to tell you the truth,” said Warriors’ utility back Tuimoala Lolohea after the result.
The Warriors may look at the efforts and style of the Wyong Roos in their win over the Bears last Thursday, looking to use their speedy backs through the middle to test the North Sydney Forwards.
In team news, the Warriors look likely to field an all-but regular 1-17, while the Bears shift fill-in half Eli Levido to the flank, in place of Riley Travers in the play making role.