PREVIEWS | Intrust Super Premiership NSW Round 25
Illawarra v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
WIN Stadium, Saturday 26 August
Premiers Illawarra take on arguably the most in-form team of the competition in the Bulldogs at WIN Stadium, with their season hopes to hang in the balance if they aren’t to secure the two points.
Currently in eighth, the 2016 champions may slide out of finals contention with a loss, so if Wentworthville are to defeat the Penrith Panthers on Sunday at Ringrose Park.
Illawarra head into this clash on the back of a last-start loss to the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles, two points effectively dropped after surrendering an early 12-nil lead.
The Bulldogs meanwhile put aside the challenge of the Wests Tigers with relative ease, scoring 30-unanswered second-half points to round out an impressive 48-4 win at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Earlier this season, the Bulldogs made light work of the Illawarra side, running out big 38-0 victors at Belmore Sports Ground.
Newtown Jets v North Sydney Bears
Henson Park, Saturday 26 August
The Frank Hyde Shield will again be the prize up for grabs when the Newtown Jets host the North Sydney Bears at Henson Park on Saturday afternoon.
Well out of the Finals race, the Shield will be an incentive for the Jets as they look to finish their season on a positive note.
Not since their Round 20 win over the New Zealand Warriors have the Jets walked away at the end of full-time with the spoils, heading into the clash with the Bears on the back of three consecutive losses.
North Sydney – who sit in sixth on the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ladder – will also be keen to claim the Shield; though perhaps more importantly the two competition points on offer, as they look to bounce back from their Round 24 loss to the Penrith Panthers.
Earlier in the year, the Jets edged the Bears – though not without late drama – by four points in Round 10 of the competition.
Mounties v Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles
Aubrey Keech Reserve, Saturday 26 August
Mounties take on the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at Aubrey Keech Reserve on Saturday afternoon, hoping to build on their Round 24 successes over the Newtown Jets.
The 10-8, gritty, grinding win at Henson Park resembled the style of match so often seen in Finals fixtures – perhaps the ideal preparation for the Mounties, as they look to again challenge their efforts seen throughout the 2016 season.
Blacktown though will prove no easy-beats as they head to Hinchinbrook, with three-straight wins to their name, the 10th-placed side could move to as high as one win out of the final top eight so if they are to take their winning run to four matches.
In a rich vein of form, Blacktown have shown rapid improvement within their own ranks in recent times, far eclipsing their former selves and set to prove a much tougher challenge than the side that fell to Mounties 44-30 in Round 13 of the competition.
Wyong Roos v Newcastle Knights
Morry Breen Reserve, Saturday 26 August
The ‘M1 Derby’ brings a close to the action on Saturday afternoon, with the Minor Premiers the Wyong Roos looking to consolidate their place atop the Intrust Super Premiership NSW standings with another win over the seventh-placed Knights.
Newcastle sealed their place in the Finals series with a miraculous come-from-behind victory over the Wentworthville Magpies, scoring four tries inside the game’s final 12 minutes to overturn big deficit – and in turn, shore up their place in the all-important top eight.
It’s set to be an all-engrossing affair, as was the case last weekend at Morry Breen Reserve were the full-time result was not decided until beyond the 80th minute. A successful conversion attempt by the Warriors held the Roos to a draw, which proved enough to wrap up the regular-season honours.
The sides last met in Round 2 of the competition, where Wyong ran out 26 points to 18 victors at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Warriors v Wests Tigers
Mt Smart Stadium, Sunday 27 August
The Warriors return to Auckland on the back of what will without doubt have proven a confidence-boosting draw with the Roos, to host an out-of-sorts Tigers outfit at Mt Smart Stadium.
On the back of six-straight weeks having conceded more than 40 points, the Tigers have shown no signs of improvement to suggest that number won’t be extended to seven here in Round 25.
The Warriors – if they are to find their best form as we’ve seen throughout the 2017 season – should prove far too good for the struggling 12th-placed Tigers.
Wests Tigers offered very little resilience when the sides last met, as the Warriors ran out 36-nil victors in Round 3 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Wentworthville Magpies v Penrith Panthers
Ringrose Park, Sunday 27 August
Pending the result at Wollongong on Saturday, all eyes will be on the Magpies’ clash with the Panthers as they look to sneak a place at the bottom of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW top 8.
Surrendering what looked an unassailable lead to the Knights in Newcastle last weekend, Wentworthville may be made to rue the chance they let slip, as they conceded four tries in the space of twelve minutes to drop a vital two points.
Penrith meanwhile did no such thing as they rolled on with their winning ways over the Bears at St Marys Leagues Stadium, running out eight-point victors over North Sydney in Round 24.
Key half Darren Nicholls was again at his inspirational best, leading the Panthers in fine style to their eighth win from their last nine matches.