PREVIEWS | ISP Rd 10
Wentworthville Magpies v Wyong Roos
Saturday, 12 May 1pm
Broadcast live on Channel 9 and 9Now
Two of the teams left heartbroken after tight results last week will meet in Round 10 - and both will be sure to come out firing in search of two competition points.
Capping off the closest day of Intrust Super Premiership on record last Saturday, the Magpies were sunk by a late Fa'amanu Brown field goal to lose 23-22 at Belmore, preventing them from building a four-game winning streak and reaching the competition's top four. The Roos, meanwhile, came away with a point in their 23-all draw with the Knights - but given their lack of success in 2018 and having led 23-22 until the final seconds, it was a tough finish to the game.
While both teams started the season poorly, only Wentworthville has since bounced back to form, but the task will be harder in Round 10 with the NRL call-ups of Siosaia Vave and Beau Scott. The side is set to call upon the services of Cameron King, Josh Hoffman and Kirisome Auva'a, however, helping their chances.
Roos forwards Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Lindsay Collins and Eloni Vunakece can certainly match it with the Magpies pack, while the match will feature young halves Jaeman Salmon and Sean O'Sullivan.
Warriors v Western Suburbs Magpies
Mt Smart Stadium
Saturday, 12 May 2.45pm NZST
Broadcast live on Fox League and SKY Sport NZ
Since the Warriors and Western Suburbs Magpies last met, their form has been reversed, leaving Brett Hodgson's men with a difficult task across the Tasman on Saturday.
The Magpies, led by the since-departed Josh Drinkwater, easily accounted for the Warriors in Round 5, producing a 32-0 shutout which shocked the New Zealand-based side into action. Enjoying three consecutive games at home, the Warriors won all three, before only narrowly going down to Mounties in Canberra last weekend. Conversely, Western Suburbs took just one victory from their four games since - narrowly beating the last-placed Knights - and after leading the competition a fortnight ago, are now at risk of dropping out of the top eight.
Captained by try-scoring second-rower Luke Garner, the Magpies face a difficult, but not impossible task at Mt Smart Stadium. An experienced halves pairing of Tyson Gamble and Pita Godinet - replacing the injured Gus Garzaniti for his first Intrust Super Premiership game of the season - will help the visitors' chances, while Hayze Perham will look to get past former Warrior Tuimoala Lolohea at the back.
Mounties v Newtown Jets
Aubrey Keech Reserve
Saturday, 12 May 3pm
Still outright competition leaders after nine rounds, Mounties don't look like slowing down - and with an impressive record against the Jets, they'll like their chances of winning in Round 10.
Since entering the Intrust Super Premiership (formerly known as the NSW Cup) in 2012, Mounties have only lost to Newtown on two occasions - their first meeting in 2012 and again in 2014 - winning the other 12 encounters in that period. Historically a competitive club in the NSWRL's elite competition, Mounties once again find themselves in top spot and should be favourites to continue their recent record.
Helping the Jets' cause will be veteran Trent Hodkinson, set for his first game in royal blue since joining the Sharks' NRL squad this season. He'll face Sam Williams - another experienced half in his first Intrust Super Premiership game of 2018 - in what is sure to be an intriguing match-up. Tyler Cornish and Brad Abbey will line up at unfamiliar positions of fullback and five-eighth in Round 10; the pair were named in the same jerseys last week before reverting to their regular places.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v St George Illawarra Dragons
Belmore Sports Ground
Saturday, 12 May 3pm
Possibly the pick of the round will occur at the scene of a Round 10 thriller on Saturday afternoon.
Belmore Sports Ground once again plays host to the Bulldogs, who take on a Dragons side coming off the back of last weekend's biggest win. While the home side, now sitting in second place, will look to cement their place at the top of the table, the visitors last week showed they're not short on strike via a fine showing from outside backs Jordan Pereira and Pat Herbert.
An ongoing revamp to the Bulldogs' NRL outfit has flowed down to the Intrust Super Premiership, with Michael Lichaa once again to start at hooker. It means Fa'amanu Brown will play halfback, captain Lachlan Lewis at centre and talented No.9 Zac Woolford will return from injury on the bench.
Both clubs have called up NRL debutants this weekend - Renouf To'Omaga for the Bulldogs and Zac Lomax for the Dragons, while fellow rookie Reece Robson is no certainty to return to Mat Head's side this weekend. In a major coup, Darren Nicholls has been named to return and will partner Jai Field in a highly-talented halves pairing.
North Sydney Bears v Penrith Panthers
North Sydney Oval
Sunday, 13 May 11.45am
Broadcast live on Fox League
It's a second meeting between the North Sydney Bears and Penrith Panthers in 2018 - and there wasn't much between them when they last met in Round 2.
Penrith came back for a 30-24 win on that occasion, and head into the Round 10 encounter in a favourable ladder position. The Panthers sit comfortably in second position, while the Bears are ninth - but on the move after a recent patch of form. They've won both their games at North Sydney Oval this year and came within centimetres of winning last week, with Dean Hawkins' match-deciding conversion attempt hitting the woodwork.
The Bears will have to play without Robbie Farah this week; the 16-time NSW hooker and Lebanese international has flown to the Middle East for a special honour. Billy Brittain will instead return to the No.9 jersey, taking on talented Penrith rake Soni Luke. While Nick Lui-Toso is believed to be close to an NRL debut, Trent Merrin's availability in the top grade will likely see him drop back, along with Wayde Egan.
Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles v Newcastle Knights
HE Laybutt Fields
Sunday, 13 May 3pm
Newcastle are coming off a thrilling draw in Round 10 - and when they kicked off the season against Blacktown in March, it ended in the same result.
Since that game, both sides have endured disappointing seasons; while the Sea Eagles had briefly enjoyed life at the top of the ladder after four rounds, they have since joined the Knights at the other end. It leaves a battle of 10th versus 12th at HE Laybutt Fields, and desperation will fuel both sides.
The Knights welcome back Jack Cogger to partner Jack Johns, who played a major part in securing last week's draw - but their defence remains their prime concern. They have averaged more than 30 points conceded over the opening nine rounds and are significantly worse than the Sea Eagles in this regard, while their attack is also the second-worst in the competition.
Coming off a bye, Blacktown will call upon fullback Jade Anderson, five-eighth Jackson Hastings and second-gamer Cade Cust at halfback. They will also welcome former Manly second-rower and Irish international James Hasson, who returns to the Sea Eagles' system after a stint with the Dragons earlier in the year.