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Kylie's Korner: Sky Blues coach casts her eye over Round Eight

Sky Blues coach Kylie Hilder talks about the matches and players to watch in Round Eight of Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership and Tarsha Gale Cup.

Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership

Four rounds are left until Semi-finals and we have five teams at the top of the table on equal competition points (10).

Things are getting serious and you can tell that by some of the bigger names making their way back into the squads, either after being rested or getting over an injury. It’s crunch time.

Wests Tigers v North Sydney Bears

Great win by the Bears over the Illawarra Steelers (32-12) last week that put them up into third spot on the ladder.

They will be on a high and I feel the Bears are starting to gel really well, with the middle pack solid in gaining the metres that allows the outside backs to do what they need to.

Vanessa Foliaki scored a try and Sarah Togatuki took no prisoners all match. She constantly pushed the Steelers defenders backwards.

The Tigers are up and down. It’s hard to predict because you don’t know what sort of Tigers outfit is going to turn up.

They had three wins from rounds two-to-four but have lost three straight in rounds five-to-seven.

South Sydney Rabbitohs v Wentworthville Magpies

The Rabbitohs were really unlucky not to get the win against Central Coast Roosters on the weekend (24-14) because they were 14-all at one stage and did a lot of things right.

I’m very impressed with their two front rowers Kahu Cassidy and Charlette Butler taking the side forward. They’re backed up by their No.14 off the bench Capri Paekau – she’s been doing a great job.

I’ve mentioned in early columns how nicely their halves – Pihuka Duff and Sian Filipo – are guiding the Rabbitohs around.

They’ll need to be sharp again this week as Wenty have a strong forward pack. They are also another team that’s hard to read – some weeks they’re on fire and others they drop off the pace a little.

But Wenty should be fresh off the bye, whereas Souths had a very physical match against the Roosters.

Illawarra Steelers v Mounties

Mounties had a solid come-from-behind win over the Sharks last weekend (30-12) which put them up into second position.

The Steelers were disappointing but they will be bolstered in the middle by the return of Kezie Apps because Mounties rely on a very middle-orientated game to get their points.

Fellow Jillaroo Emma Tonegato is also back at No.1, which the Steelers halves will also enjoy as she chimes into the line for that extra speed and pair of hands.

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks v St George Dragons

The local derby and the home side is without two of their stars through injury – halfback Maddie Studdon and fullback Tiana Penitani.

So there’s a few new faces in the Cronulla side but I expect them to be fired up after having their defence dismantled so easily by Mounties.

And I’ve got to keep giving a rap to the Dragons. They are a first-time side this year and they keep turning up and having a go. Yes, the results aren’t going their way but they’re giving it their all.

Newcastle Knights v Central Coast Roosters

I believe this is the strongest team the Knights have been able to field. The past few weeks they’ve had so many changes, which leads to inconsistent form.

But Jesse Southwell returns as No.7 and she works well with her No.6 Caitlin Moran.

They will need to as Roosters halves Jocelyn Kelleher and Tarryn Aiken are enjoying their combination.

Tarsha Gale Cup

The Canberra Raiders will make their debut in the NRLW this year and by the looks of their Tarsha Gale side, the Green Machine has a bright future.

They are lying sixth on the ladder but have the fourth-best attack in the competition.

Last week they were all over the Sharks in a 22-6 victory with fullback and captain Georgia Willey getting a double – her third of the year so far.

Georgia scored twice in the round three win over Manly Warringah (28-20) and twice again in the round four victory over the Wests Tigers (44-4).

The Raiders have a real test against fourth-placed Steelers in Shellharbour tomorrow (25 March) to keep their season rolling on.

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