PREVIEWS | ISP Rd 2
St George Illawarra Dragons v Newtown Jets
Southern Cross Group Stadium
Thursday, 15 March 5:35pm
After coming off close losses in Round 1 of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, both St George Illawarra and Newtown will be keen to claim their opening victory of 2018. The Dragons, coached by former NRL halfback Mat Head, lost by two in a thriller against Mounties at WIN Stadium last weekend – the Jets falling by just one to Wyong in another nail-biter.
Both teams possess a number of big names and proven performers at this level, including the likes of Adam Clune, Darren Nicholls (Dragons), Edrick Lee and Jesse Ramien (Jets), but perhaps the biggest battle will be at the back.
No.1s Jai Field and William Kennedy are on their day some of the most dangerous players in the Intrust Super Premiership. Field was instrumental in the Dragons’ strong start in their match last week, while Jet Kennedy showcased his elusiveness, crashing over for two tries in the opening 20 minutes of their match against the Roos.
Newcastle Knights v Western Suburbs Magpies
Saturday, 17 March 1pm
Broadcast LIVE on Channel 9
Newcastle hosts Western Suburbs at Leichhardt Oval in the Intrust Super Premiership's Round 2 Channel Nine fixture – and if the first week of action is anything to go by, the “visiting” Magpies may be one of the sides to watch this year.
Last year’s wooden-spooners, who in 2017 operated under the Wests Tigers banner, started the 2018 season in fine fashion, thrashing the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium. Their first-up performance shouldn’t be a shock, though; the Magpies’ line-up is a strong one, featuring NRL veterans in Chris McQueen, who recently overcame a significant injury hurdle, former Melbourne star Mahe Fonua and electric winger David Nofoaluma.
The Knights, after a Round 1 draw with Blacktown, will have a point to prove and also have a few stars in their side, including the likes of Ken Sio, Jacob Saifiti, Daniel Levi and Jack Johns, son of club great Matt. Last week the Knights scored four of their five tries in the first half – they’ll want to improve their second-stanza effort in this match.
Channel Nine’s live coverage will include commentary from Paul Gallen, Joel Caine and Alanna Ferguson.
Warriors v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Saturday, 17 March 12.45pm (AEST)
Mt Smart Stadium
Broadcast LIVE on Sky Sports/FOX LEAGUE
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs will be without star five-eighth Josh Cleeland this week as they look to recover from a disappointing opening match against the Western Suburbs Magpies.
Flying across the ditch to face the Warriors is one of the toughest asks in the competition, particularly after the home side’s tough victory over North Sydney last week which included a Lewis Soosemea hat-trick.
Result aside; both teams had Round 1 cobwebs they would like to expel moving forward that included poor discipline and defensive lapses, and therefore will be looking to make a statement on Saturday afternoon.
Wentworthville Magpies v Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles
Saturday, 17 March 3pm
There will be plenty of spice between the two sides this weekend, given how many players have made the move from Wentworthville to Blacktown.
John Folau, Cody Nelson and Jacob Loko have all made the move, and even more remarkably, Sea Eagles coach Steve Hales also went from the Magpies.
Both sides were impressive in different ways last week, with the Magpies comfortably beating the Panthers and the Sea Eagles fighting back late against the Knights, and they will be looking to continue that momentum in the early stages of the season.
Mounties v Wyong Roos
Aubrey Keech Reserve
Saturday, 17 March 3:00pm
Round 1 winners Mounties and Wyong square off in a what is set to be a thrilling clash in Sydney’s West on Saturday afternoon.
Led by crafty hooker Craig Garvey, Mounties will take to Aubrey Keech Reserve full of confidence on the back of their efforts in Wollongong.
The Roos snuck home against a gallant Newtown Jets outfit in Round 1 – though will need to improve if they are hopeful of taking their record to two wins from as many starts in 2018.
Penrith Panthers v North Sydney Bears
Saturday, 17 March 3:10pm
The 2017 premiers Penrith were slow out of the blocks against the Wentworthville Magpies in Round 1 and the side was made to pay come the sound of the final siren.
The mountain was one too tough to climb for the Panthers who, despite their best efforts, went down to the tune of 32-24.
Across the Tasman, North Sydney fell agonisingly short of recording what would have been a memorable win in New Zealand.
The Bears can hold their heads high, though, with the eight-point loss far from a disgrace given the side’s travel in the lead-up to the clash.
With both teams battling to record their first win of 2018, expect a willing encounter.