NSW Cup Round 5 preview
Penrith v Wests Tigers
Pepper Stadium, Saturday 4 April, 3.00pm
The Penrith Panthers are coming off back-to-back losses and are desperate to get their VB NSW Cup defence back on track against the Wests Tigers.
As vital as a victory is, Panthers coach Garth Brennan is instead emphasising the team's effort.
"The win is not the big thing," Brennan said. "The performance is the thing we are looking for. We haven't put 80 minutes together. I'm looking for the performance to be better."
The Panthers lost 24-8 against the Newtown Jets and fell 18-16 to the Newcastle Knights in consecutive weeks. Last week was particularly bitter as the Knights kicked a penalty goal on full-time after the Panthers rallied from 16-0 down.
It won't be an easy task against the Wests Tigers who lost their first game of the season 26-22 in their top-of-the-table clash with Mounties.
Brennan is confident all the signs are there for the Panthers to recapture their form and that it's just a matter of time before it starts to click.
"We've played well in patches in the last two weeks," Brennan said.
"The games we've lost have been close. Against Newtown, we were down to 11 men before the score blew out. And against Newcastle, we lost after the siren. We're not far away, we've just got to keep persisting, working hard and we'll get there. It's only round five and it's not panic stations just yet."
Newtown v Wentworthville
Henson Park, Saturday 4 April, 3.00pm
The Newtown Jets are looking to make it three wins on the trot this week against the Wentworthville Magpies, who won their first game of the season against the Cutters last week.
Despite back-to-back victories, Jets coach Greg Matterson isn't pleased with his side's form so far.
"We're still a work in progress," Matterson said. "I wasn't happy at all with our performance [against Manly]. We still have a lot of work to do. We're happy we've won a couple of games but I feel like we're miles off where we need to be."
The Jets scored 16 unanswered points to seal a comeback victory against the Manly Sea Eagles last week after trailing 26-16 with 20 minutes remaining. Although it's comforting to know that Newtown are capable of coming back and scoring plenty of points, Matterson knows it's a dangerous trend to continue.
"In the VB NSW Cup and all of rugby league, if you lose momentum, it can really hurt you," Matterson said. "Manly had six sets in a row and got a bit of momentum scoring a few tries. Then we had to play catch-up. We've got enough strike in our side but we won't be able to do that this week versus Wentworthville."
The Magpies will be without the VB NSW Cup 2014 Player of the Year Bureta Faraimo – who is starting on the wing for the Parramatta Eels' first-grade side on Monday – but enter their match with much confidence after breaking through for their first win of the season.
"Wenty might say they have a couple of troops down but they came up with a good performance last week with a good defensive performance to hold Illawarra to only 16 points as well," Matterson said. "They're going to be tough."