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Preview: Finals Week 1 VB NSW Cup

Jamie Anderson from NSWRL Media previews Week 1 of the VB NSW Cup Semi Finals Series.
Preview: Finals Week 1 VB NSW Cup
by rleague.com

Jamie Anderson
NSWRL Media

Auckland Vulcans (6th) Vs Wests Tigers (7th)
Elimination Final
Remondis Stadium, Saturday, September 14
Kick-off: 12.00pm
Referee: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via www.hawkesburyradio.com.au or on the www.nswrl.com.au Broadcast page)
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via the www.nswrl.com.au Broadcast page)
Broadcast: www.nswrl.com.au’s NSWRL Match Centre Scoreboard


2013 previous meetings: Round 7 - Auckland Vulcans 26 def. Wests Tigers 24 at Mt Smart Stadium & Round 15 - Wests Tigers 20 def. Auckland Vulcans 18 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

Summary: It’s a do or die clash here to kick off the 2013 VB NSW Cup Finals series when the Auckland Vulcans head to Remondis Stadium to take on the Wests Tigers. Last year’s Grand Finalists in the Wests Tigers (formerly Balmain Ryde Eastwood) will know what a huge task it will be to progress through to October action having done so from eighth position in 2012. The Vulcans are back in the finals after missing out in 2012, but with Pita Godinet, the man that took them to within a whisker of the 2011 Premiership, steering the ship, the Vulcans will have high hopes of progressing deep into the playoffs. To be fair, neither of these sides are in the kind of form they would like heading into this type of clash with the Tigers having won just one of their last six to finish the regular season while the Vulcans have only won one of their last six outings on Australian soil, and that was against the last placed Roos in Round 23. The one thing that both of these sides do have going for one another though is a belief that they can knock the other off after each has done so once during their two meetings already in 2013. Wonderful match ups across the park, but none more so than in the engine room where the likes of Matagi and Gubb from the Vulcans will square off against Groat and Seumanufagai for the Tigers. There has been nothing between these two sides in the regular season, and expect that to be the case once again on Saturday.

Prediction: A win to either side is a distinct possibility. Leaning towards the Vulcans but with very little conviction. Vulcans by 4.


Cronulla Sharks (1st) Vs Windsor Wolves (4th)
Qualifying Final
Remondis Stadium, Saturday, September 14
Kick-off: 2.00pm
Referee: Phil Henderson
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via www.hawkesburyradio.com.au or on the www.nswrl.com.au Broadcast page)
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via the www.nswrl.com.au Broadcast page)


2013 previous meetings: Round 9 - Cronulla Sharks 29 def. Windsor Wolves 16 at Centrebet Stadium & Round 17 - Cronulla Sharks 26 def. Windsor Wolves 24 at Henson Park.

Summary: Having secured the Minor Premiership a month out from the end of the regular season, one can forgive the Sharks for a few minor slip ups over the concluding rounds which encompassed losses to both the Bulldogs and Wentworthville. But now having had the bye in Round 26, Tony Herman would have no doubt used this time to ready his troops for their finals run, and they will need to be on high alert as an ever dangerous Windsor Wolves outfit heads to the Shire full of confidence having secured a top four spot last weekend. The Wolves will fancy their chances of causing the upset having perhaps been a shade unlucky not to have knocked off the Sharks back in their Round 17 clash. The Wolves are arguably the form team of the competition at present having won their last four straight and with the likes of Matt Moylan, Blake Austin and the competitions leading try scorer in Eto Nabuli leading the charge, they will be hoping to extend that streak to five. The Sharks have named their customary strong lineup for this clash and depending on what ends up happening with Gareth Widdop for the Melbourne Storm on Friday night, there may even be some possibility that the Sharks may yet get the services of Brett Finch back at some stage this finals series. With no less than 20 players on display that have tasted NRL experience, this clash is not one to be missed and should prove to be a fitting way to cap off a super Saturday double header at Remondis Stadium.

Prediction: The Sharks have been the measuring stick for the entire season and I have to stick with them here. Sharks by 7.


Newtown Jets (5th) Vs Wentworthville Magpies (8th)
Elimination Final
Leichhardt Oval, Sunday, September 15
Kick-off: 4.00pm
Referee: Liam Nicholls
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via the www.nswrl.com.au Broadcast page)
Broadcast: www.nswrl.com.au’s NSWRL Match Centre Scoreboard


2013 previous meetings: Round 6 - Newtown Jets 62 def. Wentworthville Magpies 22 at Ringrose Park & Round 17 - Newtown Jets 28 def. Wentworthville Magpies 26 at Henson Park.

Summary: A home loss to the Bulldogs in the final round has now seen the defending Premiers thrust into a week one elimination final against a Wentworthville side that will no doubt take to the park with a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude. A month out from the finals, Wenty were sitting in 10th place on the ladder and looked the least likely of the three sides fighting it out for eighth position (the Cutters and Mounties being the other two) to qualify, yet here they are. Full credit must be given to Brett Cook and his troops in what has been a tumultuous season for Wentworthville given their relationship with the Parramatta Eels. They have very rarely had the luxury of naming the same side in consecutive weeks and have often had to call on their clubs depth via their Ron Massey Cup and even their True Blue Chemicals Sydney Shield squads. For Newtown, they have actually finished the season two positions higher on the ladder than they did in 2012 but will once again have to defy the odds by attempting the win the VB NSW Cup from outside the top four. Only a handful of players from last year’s Grand Final triumph remain, and Jets fans will certainly be hoping the likes of Nafe Seluini, Brad Barrett, Andrew Pearn and Saulala Houma can once again lead the way over the coming weeks. Michael Oldfield returns from injury here for Newtown while Wenty get back one of their own strike weapons in Semi Radradra who returns from NRL duties.

Prediction: Another toss of the coin job but will go with the defending Premiers in another tight tussle. Jets by 2.


Newcastle Knights (2nd) Vs North Sydney Bears (3rd)
Qualifying Final
Leichhardt Oval, Sunday, September 15
Kick-off: 6.10pm
Referee: Lawrence McDonell
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports 1
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via the www.nswrl.com.au Broadcast page)


2013 previous meetings: Round 14 - Newcastle Knights 20 def. North Sydney Bears 10 at Newcastle No.2 Sports Ground & Round 22 - North Sydney Bears 23 def. Newcastle Knights 10 at North Sydney Oval.

Summary: In a repeat of their clash from week one of the 2012 VB NSW Cup Finals series, the Newcastle Knights will take on the North Sydney Bears in the final fixture of the weekend. Back in 2012 it was the Bears who finished second on the ladder with the Knights in third yet the Knights prevailed by two points on the day, winning 28-26. In 2013, it is the Knights who have secured second with the Bears in third, so perhaps the Bears will be hoping history repeats and they can prevail this time around. Ironically enough, the Bears have been a better side than the Knights statistically in both attack and defence this season, yet it has been the Knights ability to ‘win ugly’ at times that has seen them ultimately register more wins than the Bears. A small cause for concern for the Knights this year has been their form away from home. The Knights did not drop any points at home in 2013 with all six of their losses coming on the road, however importantly, the Knights did win their only match of the year at Leichhardt Oval back in Round 8 when they defeated the Bulldogs 26-18. The Bears have not played at Leichhardt Oval in 2013, in fact their last match at the venue was a two point loss to the Jets in last year’s semi-finals. Apisai Koroisau has been a revelation for the Bears at halfback since Luke Keary was elevated to the NRL mid-season, and his clash with opposing number seven in Adrian Davis could go a long way to deciding the victor here.

Prediction: Finals at Leichhardt Oval have had a knack of being nail biters the last few years and this one won’t be any different. Knights by 1.

Source: www.nswrl.com.au


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