PREVIEWS | ISP NSW Round 16
Warriors v Penrith Panthers
Mt Smart Stadium, Saturday 24 June
The Warriors will be searching for their third victory in four games when they host the Penrith Panthers on Saturday afternoon. Coming off their first bye of the season, they will be desperate for a valuable two points to stay in touch with the ladder-leading Wyong Roos.
Having put in a disappointing performance against Blacktown in Round 14, they will be looking to put in a more committed defensive display against an in-form Penrith outfit who boast significant attacking prowess.
The Panthers will be out to maintain their position in the top eight after also enjoying a lengthy layoff over the last week.
Boasting the best defensive record so far in 2017, the Panthers will be looking to prove their worth against a fellow competition heavyweight, but will be without star fullback Dylan Edwards once again after making the first grade fullback spot his own in recent weeks.
Newtown Jets v Wests Tigers
Henson Park, Saturday 24 June
Both the Tigers and Jets will be looking to bounce back to form in Round 16 after coming off heavy losses to the Magpies and Sea Eagles respectively last weekend.
The Newtown Jets have been undefeated since Round 11 of the competition, but are now clinging onto eighth position after a disastrous 42-18 loss to the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in front of their home fans.
Fa’amanu Brown will be better for his first grade experience with the Sharks after a strong display in their come-from-behind victory over the Tigers on Saturday night, while Daniel Mortimer also relished his recall to first grade after coming up with the clutch play to seal the victory in the closing stages.
The Wests Tigers are having a season to forget so far in 2017, having not won since Round 9 against the Newcastle Knights. Although showing glimpses of their attacking best in their previous encounters against the Roos and Magpies, they have been unable to put together a consistent 80-minute performance and sit last not the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ladder.
Captain Nathan Milone has been a shining light in a losing side this season, with another strong two-try performance against the Magpies in Round 15.
Illawarra v Newcastle Knights
UOW Jubilee Kogarah, Sunday 25 June
Defending premiers Illawarra have struggled to find consistency this season and are coming off back-to-back losses to the Bulldogs and Roos.
Now sitting outside the top four, they will be looking to find their feet towards the back end of the year and get back to their grinding best against a Knights team fresh off the bye.
Dynamic fullback Matt Dufty has shown signs of his blistering best after opening the scoring against the Roos, and has worked well with halfback Shaun Nona who has been one of their most consistent performers in 2017.
The Knights would have relished the week off with the two points having them now sit just outside the top eight on points difference, and will be looking to cement themselves as a genuine title contender within the coming weeks.
The added experience of former NSW VB Blues halfback Trent Hodkinson will be crucial against a well-drilled Illawarra team, and will be looking to continue his strong combination with halves partner William Pearsall and young NSW Under-20s fullback Nick Meaney.
North Sydney Bears v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
North Sydney Oval, Sunday 25 June
With both sides enjoying layoffs over the bye period in Round 15, a win from either team this weekend could see them hold onto fourth place of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ladder.
The Bears have enjoyed considerable success in 2017 and have cemented themselves in the top four consistently this season, bouncing back to form with a gritty 16-8 victory over the Magpies in Round 14.
Their brick-wall defence has been their backbone throughout this year, but will need to improve their attacking raids considering they sit last for points scored this season. Look for the likes of Luke Kelly and Eli Levido to take control early in the contest, with the classy halves pairing being the cornerstone of some of their victories in 2017.
The Bulldogs have turned around an inconsistent start to the season and are now undefeated since Round 10 of the competition. Back-to-back draws in Round 10 and 11 of the competition were games they easily could of won, but have managed to put in strong 80 minute performances recently including a 38-0 shut-out against Illawarra two weeks ago.
Look for their dominant forward pack to lay a strong platform early in the contest, with the likes of Andy Saunders and Rod Griffin putting in strong performances in recent weeks.
Wentworthville Magpies v Mounties
Ringrose Park , Sunday 25 June
The Wentworthville Magpies bounced back to form in perfect fashion in Round 15, putting in a brilliant 80-minute performance against the Wests Tigers to record an emphatic 40-14 victory.
Although sitting outside the Top Eight, a victory over the Mounties could see them well and truly be back in contention as they look to build some consistency towards the back-end of the year.
Fullback Honeti Tuha crossed for a hat-trick in an outstanding individual display, and has constantly threatened his opposition defensive lines with his nifty footwork.
The Mounties are once again sitting firmly in the top four, but will be desperate for a much-needed two points this weekend to stay in contact with the the top-two contingent of the Roos and Warriors.
Packed with first grade experience, with the likes of Dave Taylor and Jeff Lima constantly causing havoc around the middle-third, expect the Mounties to find their best in the later stages of the season as they look to make a strong charge towards the finals.