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Kylie's Korner: Sky Blues coach casts her eye over Round 11

We have arrived at the end of the regular season for the Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership and it’s no surprise to see the top-four is not locked in – it’s been that kind of year.

Six clubs are still ‘alive’ for the four Semi-finals spots. The only two clubs safely into finals action next week are top-of-the-table leaders, the North Sydney Bears and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs both on 16 competition points.

Third through to sixth are separated by one win – and one of those clubs, the fourth-placed Central Coast Roosters, have the bye so two competition points guaranteed.

It comes down to for-and-against and that’s where the Illawarra Steelers will be nervous. The three clubs below them – the Roosters, Mounties and Newcastle – all have superior differentials.

Myself as Origin coach and the Country and City coaches will be finalising our representative squads after this weekend – the last round of the NSW Women’s Premiership and all games at the Women’s Country Championships in Coffs Harbour and Queanbeyan – so there’s an added element to all this football.

Harvey Norman NSW Women's Premiership

Newcastle Knights v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks

The Knights not only need to win, they need a big win to elevate them from sixth into the top-four. But they have the points-scoring personnel to do it.

The Knights have not lost a game since the Round Five bye. Three of those five wins were by 30 points or more.

Their second half against the Steelers was really impressive. They went into halftime down 12-4 but ended up winning 34-18 off the back of a solid team effort, especially from halfback Jesse Southwell.

For me, I feel the Knights will get Cronulla even with Jada Taylor returning as Sharks fullback and Tiana Penitani in the centres. The forward packs are pretty even, although Caitlan Johnston’s knee injury is a big loss for the Knights, so it might be up to the outside backs to lead the way.

Hooker Quincy Dodd has been playing so well for the Sharks, but so has her opposite No.9 in Olivia Higgins. Back rower Yasmin Clydesdale has been named captain this week and that’s well-deserved on her performances this season.

Wests Tigers v Illawarra Steelers

Do-or-die for the Steelers, who currently sit in third spot but a loss would see them gone from the Semi-finals.

The Wests Tigers will want to finish the season well, as they are the defending Harvey Norman premiers but will not be amongst it this year by finishing eighth.

Again the two hookers in Ebony Prior (Wests Tigers) and Keeley Davis (Steelers) will be key to fortunes in this game, and I’m sure Illawarra are very disappointed in last week’s loss.

They have been having great starts but they really need to fix their second half efforts. Kezie Apps still absent through injury won’t help the cause but the Steelers know they need to put everything on the line this weekend.

Mounties v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs

Mounties are home again this weekend after a solid 40-10 win over South Sydney last round.

They haven’t named their final team yet so I’m not sure if their inspirational captain Simaima Taufa is back from an ankle injury.

The Bulldogs are comfortably in the top-four and subsequently have rested some of their stars like internationals Gayle Broughton, Holli Wheeler and Kennedy Cherrington.

Lying in fifth spot Mounties have a healthy for-and-against so another big win could see them knock either the Steelers or Roosters out of the top-four.

Wentworthville Magpies v St George Dragons

These are the two bottom teams so pride is on the line for this final club round for 2023.

The Magpies have victories over the Steelers, Knights and Mounties this year but couldn’t maintain that form week-to-week.

The Dragons are a new club in the Harvey Norman competition and consequently have had a more development focus as they bring through their Tarsha Gale Cup players into the senior grade.

But they have not stopped trying every week and I applaud their commitment and attitude. I look forward to seeing how this year’s experience can translate into better results next year.

North Sydney Bears v South Sydney Rabbitohs

The Bears are taking the opposite philosophy to the Bulldogs and will be close to full strength – perhaps to make that final push and win the minor premiership as both clubs are on 16 points.

That would also be back-to-back minor premierships for the Bears.

Sky Blues players Jess Sergis, Kirra Dibb, Vanessa Foliaki, Sarah Togatuki and reigning Dally M winner Raecene McGregor are all playing to help make that a reality.

The Rabbitohs lost their No.7 Sian Filipo in the Round Nine win over the Dragons and they have struggled a little without her direction.

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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