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Preview: Round 15 VB NSW Cup

Jamie Anderson from NSWRL previews Round 15 of the VB New South Wales Cup.
Preview: Round 15 VB NSW Cup

Illawarra Cutters Vs Wyong Roos
WIN Stadium, Saturday, June 22
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski

A must win game for both of these teams here as the tenth placed Cutters play host to the eleventh placed Roos. Both sides would still have top eight aspirations in 2013 although one would imagine that it is more likely for the Cutters to accomplish this task as opposed to the Roos. It has been a good debut year for the boys from Wyong to this point but a 40-6 loss at home last weekend against the Jets may have taken some wind out of their sails and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back here. The Cutters have been a touch disappointing through the first half of the season however in their defence they have lost two games against the Wolves and the Knights that they probably should have won, and with those four competition points in hand, they would currently find themselves inside the top eight. The Cutters have lost Jamie Soward for the rest of the season after he was granted a release and looks set to play out the year in the UK, however it appears that his place may be taken by Harry Siejka, who has signed with the Dragons earlier today. For Wyong, the big Fijian, Eloni Vunakece, will make his first start for the club after coming off the bench in his first few outings.

Talking Point:
Last time they met – The Roos have not been blown out of the water too many times in their inaugural season; however one of their biggest losses of the season came in a 40-12 defeat to the Cutters back in Round Seven. On that occasion, it was the likes of Quinlan, Vaivai and Green who proved too big a handful for the Wyong defenders. Well the good news for them is that Vaivai and Green wont suit up here, but the bad news is that their spots have been taken by young Charly Runciman and Daniel Vidot, who both look every bit as dangerous on their day.

If the Cutters are serious about making a run at the eight, this is a match they should win and win well. Cutters by 22.
Newtown Jets Vs Cronulla Sharks
Henson Park, Saturday, June 22
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Michael Laverty
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via or on the Broadcast page)

Summary: Officially the two hottest teams in the competition square off here at Henson Park when the unbeaten Cronulla Sharks take on a Jets side that has now strung five wins together. The Jets current win streak sees them banging on the door of the top four, in fact, with the third placed Bears taking on the fourth placed Wolves, there is a scenario that could see the Jets inside the top four by rounds end if they can knock off the Sharks. The Sharks ran out convincing winners once again last weekend when they disposed of Wenty 44-20 down at Shark Park while the Jets were far too good for a lacklustre Wyong side, running out 40-6 victors. Both of these sides have been affected by Origin somewhat this round with a number of regulars unavailable due to NRL call ups. The Jets will be without the services of Nafe Seluini who will play his first game for the Roosters since late last year while young Dylan Napa will finally make his well-deserved NRL debut. On the Sharks side of the fence, they will be without regular Melbourne players, Finch, Griffen and McLean, who have all been named in the Storm side that is set to tackle the Gold Coast on Monday night. Nothing beats an afternoon of footy at Henson Park, and if you only go to one game a year there, this is probably the one you should go to.

Talking Point:
When will the bubble burst – At 14-0, the question has now gone from ‘How many can they win in a row?’ to ‘When will the run end?’ Probability and logic suggests that all good things come to an end at some point, and I don’t think too many would stick their necks out on the line and suggest that this Sharks team can get through the season undefeated, so the cynics now want to know when this golden run will end. No doubt the Bluebag army will be hoping it is this round, but here is some food for thought… The Sharks average a league best 33 points a game in attack and concede a league best 13 points a game in defence, giving them an average winning margin of 20 points. Their lowest winning margin of victory this season has been eight points, which has happened on two occasions, and the positive for the Jets fans is that on one of those two occasions, it was against Newtown.

Will stick with the Sharks but if they are to lose one soon, this might be it. Sharks by 7.
Mounties Vs Wentworthville Magpies
Mt Pritchard Sports Ground, Saturday, June 22
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Phil Haines

A vital encounter for both of these sides as the eighth placed Magpies head to Mt Pritchard to take on the ninth placed Mounties. Mounties have now not tasted victory since their Round Nine win over the Dogs however during that stretch they have lost two games by a try or less and were also extremely competitive against the Sharks at Cronulla. Wenty continue to mix their form of late as they became the latest side to feel the wrath of the Sharks last weekend and as a result they find themselves clinging onto their grip of eighth place. A number of personnel changes for both of these sides with both the Eels and the Raiders calling on troops during this busy representative period. Sami Sauiluma will become the most recent VB NSW Cup graduate to make their NRL debut in 2013 with that honour roll now reading in excess of 30 players already this season. Sauiluma has been one of Mounties best in 2013 and we wish him all the best when the Raiders tackle the Tigers. Nathan Smith was in good form for Wenty as he scored two tries last weekend against the Sharks, and his battle against Ryan Carr should prove to be a pivotal one this weekend.

Talking Point: Attack Attack Attack – Mounties are only averaging 18 points a game in attack in 2013 and we are buggered as to why that is? They have creative and experienced halves in Williams and Carr, they have a number of outside backs that are dangerous and possess an abundance of speed. And their forward pack continues to be one that is the envy of many sides in the VB NSW Cup. Perhaps they just play too safe and too structured at times. We would love to see Stephen Antonelli release the handbrake so to speak and just let them play footy. He may be surprised by the result.

Mounties haven’t been far off the mark of late and can get up at home. Mounties by 8.
Canterbury Bulldogs Vs Manly Sea Eagles
Belmore Sports Ground, Saturday, June 22
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Daniel Olford
Broadcast:’s NSWRL Match Centre Scoreboard

After their loss to the Tigers last weekend, it is well and truly desperation stakes now for the Bulldogs. Lying at the foot of the table as we enter Round 15, the Dogs are six competition points as well as around 100 points for and against outside of the top eight. Manly find themselves in only a marginally better situation with two more competition points but a significantly worse for and against than the Dogs. Manly should head into this game feeling fresh having had their first bye of the season last weekend while the Dogs will be happy to return to Belmore after a few weeks away from home. For Manly, NSW U20 player Clinton Gutherson will jump into fullback with Chisholm moving to six and Savage shifting from the backrow to his more favoured centre position while for the Dogs, Moses Mybe replaces Joel Romelo at hooker and Ryan Wilson comes onto the wing with Brett Lane shifting into the centres to cover the loss of Tim Lafai.

Talking Point: Flick the switch – This particular writer has long been an advocate of moving Dane Chisholm from fullback into the halves for Manly. In defence of Luke Williamson, perhaps he has been waiting for the right man to become available to replace him at the back, and finally that has happened. With Manly having the bye in both the NRL and Holden Cup this weekend, the club has seen this as a golden opportunity to give Clinton Gutherson a run in the VB NSW Cup team at fullback. This now allows Chisholm to be freed up and moved into the six jersey where he can get his hands on the ball far more frequently, and that can only be a good thing for a Manly side that has the worst attack in the competition through 14 rounds of play. If everything goes well this weekend, we may be seeing more of Gutherson in the VB NSW Cup as a result.

Any result here would not come as a shock but will stick the neck out and tip Manly. Sea Eagles by 4.
Wests Tigers Vs Auckland Vulcans
Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Saturday, June 22
Kick-off: 3.10pm
Referee: Liam Nicholls
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports 1

Summary: Two of the more entertaining sides in the VB NSW Cup will lock horns this Saturday as part of a four match program at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. The Wests Tigers head into this one with their tails up following a 16 point win over the Bulldogs while the Vulcans will be out for their fifth straight win as they continue their rise up the VB NSW Cup ladder. The Vulcans have always struggled to win in Australia but hopefully they will take great confidence out of their gutsy 20-14 win over the Wolves at Windsor last Saturday night and can now go on to win many more matches on aussie soil. The upshot to losing Harry Siejka mid-season appears to be the fact that Pita Godinet will now play more seven for the Vulcans when he is not in first grade. It was less than two years ago when Pita almost single handedly guided the Vulcans to a Premiership, and his new combination with Carlos Tuiamavave may get their fans dreaming of something similar in 2013. The Tigers were happy to have Jarred Farlow and Sean Meaney back from NRL duties last week, and both have been named here again along with Josh Davis and David Harris, who have both been named to return from injury layoffs. A great afternoon of football waits for those that venture out to Campbelltown on Saturday and it all starts at 1.15pm when the Western Suburbs Magpies face Auburn in the Ron Massey Cup.

Talking Point:
There ain’t no party like a Ro-Ropati – How good is it to see the proud Ropati name in the VB NSW Cup. A name that is synonymous with the great game of Rugby League in New Zealand, both Jerome and Tangi continue to keep the name alive (albeit both unrelated to the famous Ropati family) and they are doing it with distinction. Tangi has been a breath of fresh air to this Vulcans side since his return from the UK while Jerome continues his return from injury via the Cup and will need to continue to impress given the form of his peers in the Warriors side at present.

Momentum is a funny thing sometimes, and the Vulcans have it right now. Vulcans by 6.
North Sydney Bears Vs Windsor Wolves
North Sydney Oval, Sunday, June 23
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Lawrence McDonell
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via or on the Broadcast page)
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Triple H 100.1FM (Link available via the Broadcast page)

A couple of sides that both currently sit in the top four are set to go at it this Sunday, yet neither of them would be particularly pleased with their form at present. The visiting Wolves have dropped two straight following losses to the Jets and Vulcans respectively and are now in danger of falling out of the top four for the first time this year while the Bears have dropped three of their last four and need a win here to stay in touch with the Knights for second spot. Luke Burgess played his first game of the year for the Bears last weekend and is once again named to play here, however his younger brother Tom is set for his NRL debut this weekend following the suspension of his twin brother George. The Wolves will bring a very capable side down to North Sydney Oval on Sunday but have once again lost the services of Kyle O’Donnell after he suffered a knee injury during the side’s loss last weekend. Jeremy Latimore is another forward who is searching for game time, and his clash here against opposing number 10 in Matt Hyland should be a beauty.

Talking Point:
Johnston V Nabuli – This is a match up that promises to be high flying and spectacular. Both of these boys are physical specimens and love getting across the line, both love to contest the high ball and provide a wonderful target out wide for their kickers. Curtis in particular loves to get emotionally involved in his one on one battles so look for there to be plenty of feeling between these two out on the park.

Going with the Wolves in what looks a close match but the Bears may have other ideas. Wolves by 2.Newcastle Knights have the BYE

You can stay across all of the VB NSW Cup scores right throughout the weekend by following us on twitter @NSWRL or you can join in the conversation by using the #VBNSWCUP hashtag.


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