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VB NSW Cup: Round 9 previews

NSWRL Media NRL.com Thu, May 08, 2014 - 4:00 PM

Souths winger Nathan Merritt will plays his second successive match for the North Sydney Bears in the NSW Cup this weekend. Copyright: Grant Trouville.

NZ Warriors Vs Mounties
Eden Park, May 10, 12.40pm (NZT) 10.40am (AEST) 
Referee: Shane Rehm
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports 1 and Sky Sport NZ 

The NZ Warriors return home for the first time in a month and will be looking to knock over a Mounties side that currently sits in third place on the competition ladder. Mounties bounced back following some indifferent form of late with a 24-14 win last weekend while the Warriors were no match for the Panthers going down 36-8 at Sportingbet Stadium. The Warriors will get back the services of Dominique Peyroux, Michael Sio, Siliva Havili and Carlos Tuimavave this round after they missed last week through representative commitments while Mounties lose the services of Shannon Boyd, Tevita Pangai and Kyle O’Donnell but Jarrad Kennedy could be a late inclusion if he isn’t required in first grade. The Warriors have played just three home games thus far in 2014 and have a win, a draw and a loss to show for it. For a side that has had its troubles on the road, it’s imperative that they make the most of their home fixtures. For our readers here in Australia, keep in mind that this is a 10.40am (AEST) kick off, so mow the lawns and take the kids to the park nice and early and then settle in for a bumper afternoon of footy.

The good the bad and the ugly: After four straight wins, the Warriors plummeted back to earth last weekend with a display that surely would have caught Coach Rohan Smith off guard. The Warriors dominated large facets of the match against the Panthers last Saturday but failed to translate that domination into points on the board. Smith will be hoping that a new halves combination in Lino and Tuimavave may prove to be more fruitful.

Prediction: Warriors to bounce back at home. Warriors by 4.

Cronulla Sharks Vs Wentworthville Magpies 
Henson Park, May 10, 1pm
Referee: Damien Briscoe
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (www.steelesports.com.au)

A 50-32 win over the Knights last round saw Wentworthville move to the top of the competition table and they will be licking their lips at the chance to take on the reigning premiers at Henson Park this weekend. After an indifferent start to the season, the Sharks have rattled off three straight wins and have now joined four other sides on 12 competition points. In fact, a win to the Sharks here would see them join Wenty on 14 points, such is the closeness of this year’s competition. The Magpies are averaging around 34 points a game in attack and it is easy to see why with weapons like Justin Hunt, Luke Kelly, Vai Toutai and Bureta Faraimo all launching off the back of some wonderful forward play. Wenty have three inclusions this weekend who all participated in last weekend Under 20’s Origin match. Ryan Matterson (NSW), Kaysa Pritchard (NSW) and John Folau (QLD) will all be out to impress here following solid performances last week for their respective states. The Sharks had the bye last weekend, and amazingly enough, not one side has won in 2014 coming off the back of the bye.

The early bird gets the worm: We are calling on the Henson Park regulars to get out there early on Saturday and watch what promises to be a cracking game of football between the Sharks and Wenty. Jets fans haven’t had a lot to cheer about of late, and while they will be willing on their troops in the later game, this match may well end up being the better of the two matches and promises to be worth the early arrival.

Prediction: Look for the Sharks to continue their good form of late and break the bye hoodoo. Sharks by 4.

Newtown Jets Vs North Sydney Bears 
Henson Park, May 10, 3pm
Referee: Chris Treneman
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (www.steelesports.com.au)

To say that both of these sides will be desperate for the win would be an understatement. Currently occupying the bottom two places on the ladder, the Jets and Bears will be hoping that this Saturday is the day that their seasons begin in earnest. The side that doesn’t get the two points this round will most likely be four wins, plus a significant chunk of for and against behind the eighth placed team with two thirds of the season remaining. The Bears won’t be happy with their performance last weekend against the Dogs given they were the better team for large periods of the match, but they couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard. The Jets were far more competitive last week than they had been the previous two rounds, however it still wasn’t enough to stop them from losing their third straight match. After missing last week, Jonathon Reuben has been named at fullback for the Jets, and his clash with Nathan Merritt should be one of the highlights on the day. Tuqiri is back for North Sydney following a hit out with Fiji last weekend while Joe Uluibau was one of the Bears' best against the Dogs and will need to be marked closely here.

It’s long enough, it’s high enough: and it’s straight between the posts! For the past ten years or so the Jets and the Bears have faced off each and every year for the Frank Hyde Shield. Regarded as a pioneer in terms of league commentary, Hyde was also a pretty handy player. During stints with both the Jets and the Bears, Hyde was involved in a number of clashes between these two clubs, perhaps highlighted by the 1943 Grand Final when Frank captain-coached the Bears to a loss against… you guessed it, Newtown! Get out there for what is always an emotionally charged day for these two teams.

Prediction: Toss a coin. Jets by 2.

Illawarra Cutters Vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 
WIN Stadium, May 10, 3pm
Referee: Liam Nicholls

The Illawarra Cutters will look to continue their good recent form when they host a Dogs side seeking back to back wins. The Bulldogs won just their second match of the season last weekend when they defeated the Bears 27-20 while the Cutters kicked clear in the second half for a comfortable 40-0 win against Wyong. Joel Thompson, Jack de Belin, Bronson Harrison, Jack Stockwell and Will Matthews all went around for the Cutters last weekend but have been elevated into the Dragons 18 for this week. The Cutters do get some help however with Michael Witt, Peter Mata’utia and Matt Groat all named to tackle the Dogs. For Canterbury, Tyrone Phillips, Lloyd Perrett, Krisnan Inu and Reni Maitua return from representative duty while Chase Stanley is also a welcome addition. On paper these two sides look evenly matched but the Dogs will definitely need to bring their ‘A’ game to WIN Stadium if they are to be any chance of causing the upset.

Stealth mode: In true Des Hasler style, the Cutters are just flying along nicely under the radar. The Cutters are sitting in second place and along with Wenty, are the only sides to have just the two losses as we enter round nine. A draw and a loss to the Warriors are the only real blots on an otherwise clear copybook at present. Illawarra appear to have wonderful depth and with constant competition for spots in the Dragons NRL side, this side looks to be one that can do some real damage over the coming weeks.

Prediction: The Cutters are going about things nicely at present and should be too strong at home. Cutters by 10.

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Vs Wests Tigers 
Brookvale Oval, May 10, 3pm
Referee: Adam Cassidy

After a red-hot start to the season, injuries at the club has seen the Tigers come back to the pack in recent weeks, and they will have their hands full with the Sea Eagles at Brooky on Saturday. The Sea Eagles ground out a professional win against the Jets last weekend and will be out to keep the good times going this weekend at home. The Tigers were valiant in their 10-point loss to Mounties last weekend and will be happy to get Marika Koroibete back for this one although they will be without Nathan Waters meaning Jarrod Farlow will serve as a makeshift number six this round. Manly get back both Clinton Gutherson and Jake Trbojevic from representative duty and they have also named Tom Symonds whose inclusion would be a massive boost. This week commences a solid block of home games for the Sea Eagles and you get a sense that the next six weeks or so will make or break Manly’s ambitions one way or another about playing finals in 2014. This match will be the third of three games on the day with a Sydney Shield clash between the Peninsula Seagulls and Guildford Owls at 12.45pm and also a City Vs Country Tertiary League clash kicking things off at 11am.

Doin' the eagle rock: Manly is a tough one to work out. One week they look like a side that can mix it with anyone, and other weeks they look anything but. We can’t put our finger on what the issue is, but if this team can sort their issues out, they do look to have a roster capable of elevating themselves into the bottom half of the top eight before season's end. A win here at home, and their second in a row, may be the catalyst for such a charge.

Prediction: The Sea Eagles can make it back to back wins here against an understrength Tigers side. Sea Eagles by 4.

Newcastle Knights Vs Penrith Panthers
Cessnock Sports Ground, May 10, 5pm 
Referee: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
Broadcast: LIVE stream courtesy of Bar TV Sports, NSWRL Match Centre coverage (NSWRL.com.au)

The Panthers will not have forgotten about a 24-14 round one loss at the hands of the Knights as they prepare to take them on in Cessnock this Saturday afternoon. These two sides find themselves joined at the hip on the ladder with identical records entering round nine, with the Knights boasting the superior attack and the visitors the better defence. That defence was on show last Saturday when they held a dangerous Warriors side scoreless in the first half and conceded just the two tries in the second half while scoring five of their own. The Knights will be fired up to bounce back from their loss to Wenty last week where they conceded 50 points for the second time in four weeks. No doubt defence would have been a major focus for the Knights mid-week, so an inspired start to this game is a certainty, but will they be able to sustain it for 80 minutes against the likes of Nabuli, Smith, Naiqama and John? Ben Murdoch-Masila, who joined the Panthers last week is set for his first start with his new club after coming off the bench last weekend while for the Knights, they have lost Siulepa and Hilder but should have the services of Toka Likiliki who has been named to return from injury.

No place like home: The Knights will be happy to be back at home after going down 50-32 to Wenty last Sunday at Ringrose Park. With just the one loss at home over the past two seasons, Newcastle will be banking on that record holding up when the ever dangerous Panthers make their way up the M1 on Saturday. In terms of defence, the Knights have conceded around 10 points less at home than what they have been giving up on the road, so look for the home side to muscle up in an attempt to contain a Panthers attack that has started to come into its own of late.

Prediction: Will go with the Knights at home but the Panthers are a big chance. Knights by 4.

Wyong Roos have the bye