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Kylie's Korner: Sky Blues coach points out who to watch in Round Four

Welcome to a new column for the 2023 Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership and Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup competitions, where Sky Blues Origin coach Kylie Hilder will point out a few players and games to keep an eye on each week.

Round Four – 25-27 February

It’s great to see far more of last year’s Origin-winning players – and now some are also Jillaroos representatives – coming back into the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership.

Things are starting to ramp up selection-wise for this year’s State of Origin campaign and I need to see what some of our established stars can bring to the table.

I’m hearing Sky Blues halfback Rachael Pearson will have her first game for the Illawarra Steelers on Saturday in Wyong against the Central Coast Roosters, along with Keeley Davis and Emma Tonegato.

Player to Watch

I’m excited seeing Tiana Penitani named at fullback for the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Sunday.

She has played in the No.1 jersey before but this is her first Harvey Norman Premiership game for 2023.

Her sweeping runs, acceleration, and verbal instructions out the back hopefully will get the Sharks back on track. They have lost their past two matches – the North Sydney Bears in round two and Central Coast Roosters in round three.

Match of the Round

The game I mentioned earlier between the Steelers and Roosters is the match of the round for me.

They are sixth and seventh respectively coming off last weekend’s results. I know these two clubs see themselves as top-four material and are eager to work their way back up the ladder.

The Steelers had a 22-4 loss to Wentworthville last week but with some of their stars coming back they will want to start putting more wins on the board. However, their young backline will have their hands full with Isabelle Kelly.

The Roosters scraped through over the Sharks (14-12) but I understand we might see some positional changes this weekend to bring more cohesion to their football.

The battle between the two No.9s in Keeley for the Steelers up against a rising talent in Shawden Burton at the Roosters could help swing the result.

Roosters halfback Jocelyn Kelleher has been on the radar for a while now and is up against the Origin half in Pearson.

For Newcastle, the Knights welcome back Caitlin Moran to partner Jesse Southwell in the halves, while Bobbi Law is back in the centres for their game against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Another two good match-ups in the Sharks-Bulldogs game is No.7s and former NRLW Parramatta teammates Maddie Studdon and Tayla Preston, along with hookers – and former Sharks teammates – Quincy Dodd and Reuben Cherrington.

Dodd was our halves-hooker utility in the Sky Blues last year with Cherrington central to the past two wins over the Maroons by the NSW Under-19s Origin side.

Next Generation

In Harvey Norman Tarsha Gale Cup the match of the round is the Steelers-Indigenous Academy Roosters game kicking off at 11am followed by the Open women’s at 3.30pm at Morry Breen Oval.

It’s a top-four clash with the Roosters leading the competition undefeated on six points, but the Steelers are just one-point behind in third with a win-draw-bye.

I’ve been very impressed with Roosters lock Tavarna Papalii. She’s a very switched-on player who hasn’t had a bad game yet in three rounds.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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