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Preview: Round 21 VB NSW Cup

Jamie Anderson, Brad Preston & Steven Russo preview Round 21 of the VB New South Wales Cup.
Preview: Round 21 VB NSW Cup
by rleague.com

Jamie Anderson, Brad Preston & Steven Russo
NSWRL Media

Auckland Vulcans Vs Wentworthville Magpies
Mt Smart Stadium #2, Saturday, August 3
Kick-off: 11.00am NZT, 9.00am AEST
Referee: Daniel Caddy


Summary: These two clubs will face off twice over the course of the next month in battles that may well shape the final outcome of the top eight. The Vulcans head into this one sitting in seventh place while the visiting Wentworthville currently sit two points outside of the eight in ninth and a loss here will make their job of playing finals all the more difficult. The Vulcans came within a whisker of knocking off the Cutters last week only to be denied by a last minute Drinkwater field goal while Wenty were no match for the Bears going down 64-24 at home. Chris Sandow has been named once again here for Wenty and will be joined in the halves by Brendan Waters while the Vulcans have a few re-enforcements coming into the squad, head lined by the inclusion of Russell Packer. Wenty also have big matches against Windsor and the Bears in the coming weeks so nothing short of the two competition points here will do.

Talking Point: Forwards should Packer punch - How about the Vulcans pack named for this clash… Packer, Mara, Gubb, Palavi, Lousi and Ikihahifo. In fact Palavi is the only one who is yet to taste first grade, but many smart pundits across the ditch will tell you that when it is all said and done, he may in fact end up playing more first grade than the rest. The Wenty pack isn’t exactly chop liver either, but they will need to be near their best to keep this Vulcans pack at bay.

Prediction: The Vulcans should prove too strong at home. Vulcans by 8.


Cronulla Sharks Vs Wyong Roos
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday, August 3
Kick-off: 12.40pm
Referee: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports 1


Summary:
Cronulla head into this clash in a very unfamiliar position, off the back of a loss. The Sharks dropped just their second game of 2013 when they went down to the Knights 16-8 up at Cessnock last Saturday night. The Roos looked set to register just their fifth win of the season against the Sea Eagles last round only for a last minute Manly try to deny them victory. Given their lofty standards, the Sharks are currently in the middle of a mini slump so to speak having lost two of their last four as well as being held to a draw by the Cutters. Tony Herman and his men will be looking to find their best form once again in the lead up to the finals and the Roos can expect to feel their full force this weekend. The Sharks pack will be bolstered by the inclusion of Mark Taufua here while the Roos will bring Allen Malau back into the starting side and will also welcome Joel Patterson back to the fold. The Roos currently sit two points clear of the Bulldogs at the foot of the ladder but are likely to need one or possibly two more wins to avoid the spoon give that Canterbury still has a bye up their sleeves.

Talking Point: Time to Rip in - With Wyong confirming midweek that Rip Taylor will be the clubs Head Coach for the 2014/15 seasons, it is now job audition time for the current crop of players as Taylor will no doubt be evaluating the list thoroughly over the coming weeks. We doubt Taylor will do a ‘Sticky’ and sit them down in a room together and put some blokes in one corner, and others in another, but he will need to make some tough choices, and the red pen will be ready to go through some names we reckon.

Prediction:
Hard to see anything other than a Sharks win. Sharks by 20.


North Sydney Bears Vs Mounties
North Sydney Oval, Saturday, August 3
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Phil Henderson
Broadcast: www.nswrl.com.au’s NSWRL Match Centre Scoreboard


Summary:
Undoubtedly one of the matches of the round awaits us here as the Bears are set to host Mounties at North Sydney Oval on Saturday. Mounties surge towards the finals continued last weekend when they pulled a rabbit out of their hat and got the points against a determined Dogs outfit while the Bears played one of their most complete games of the season when they dominated Wenty to the tune of 64-24. Currently sitting in third place on the ladder, the Bears would seemingly be almost assured of a top four finish with a win here and their mindset would also be set on refining their style of play in the lead up to the finals. Mounties still appear to be the most vulnerable of the sides that sit in the eight in terms of holding onto their spot, but a win here coupled with some very winnable games over the final five weeks, could be enough for them. Mounties welcome back the very dangerous Sami Sauiluma for this one and expect his confidence to be at an all-time high given his recent experience in the NRL. The Bears meanwhile are unchanged from the side that won so convincingly last weekend.

Talking Point:
Mouthwatering match ups - One only needs to cast their eye across the team lists to get a sense of what we are all in store for at North Sydney Oval on Saturday afternoon. Ferguson continues his fight for a first grade spot via Mounties and may very well come up against VB NSW Cup success story, Andrew Everingham. Curtis Johnston and Bill Tupou are two of the bigger and more explosive wingers in the competition and their matchup should be a classic while Corrigan and Sauiluma will also be another clash worth the price of admission alone. Genuinely excited about this one, cannot wait!

Prediction: Like the momentum that Mounties have built in recent weeks and an upset is on the cards. Mounties by 4.


Newtown Jets Vs Wests Tigers
Henson Park, Saturday, August 3
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Liam Nicholls
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via the www.nswrl.com.au Broadcast page)


Summary:
The Tigers come into this game refreshed after having a bye last weekend while Newtown will be looking to bounce back after suffering a 36-24 loss at the hands of Windsor. The Jets sit in fifth, Wests in the six, both on 24 points and they will both be desperate for a win to stay in touch with the top four. It will be an intriguing battle on the flanks with Marika Koroibete and Matt Utai lining up against exciting Newtown pair, Pierce Sapsford and Paul Rokolati. All four wingers know their way to the line, so expect plenty of tries. Newtown halfback Ryley Jacks has improved leaps and bounds in recent times and is steering his team around well at the moment. He will be looking to assert himself in front of the Henson Park faithful. The battle of the forwards should also be the worth the price of admission with both packs containing some of the competition’s toughest hombres including young gun Dylan Napa for Newtown and the experienced Jarrod Farlow for Wests. It was an exciting contest last time these two met at Leichhardt Oval with Newtown putting in a massive second half effort to register a come from behind victory, 30-26. This is one of the VB NSW Cup’s fiercest local derbies and is guaranteed to provide an excellent atmosphere.

Talking Point: Grand Final replay - Having already met earlier in the season back in Round 10 when the Jets came from behind to defeat the Tigers 30-26 at Leichhardt Oval, this weekend will mark the second time these two clubs have met since last year’s epic Grand Final. They currently sit in fifth and sixth place on the ladder, and although you wouldn’t have thought that this might have been a Grand Final preview, the same would have been said when the two sides finished seventh and eighth last year, and we all know how that one turned out don’t we?

Prediction: A real toss of the coin job but will tip the Tigers in an even contest. Tigers by 2.


Illawarra Cutters Vs Canterbury Bulldogs
WIN Stadium, Wollongong, Saturday, August 3
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Michael Laverty


Summary: The Bulldogs have had an indifferent year by their lofty standards in 2013 but they seemed to have turned a corner and look like they will be that side everyone will hate playing heading into the finals when competition points are at a premium. They face the Vulcans, Sharks, Windsor and Newtown in their final rounds and all of those sides are currently in the top-eight. Illawarra have mirrored the Dogs’ season somewhat but it was good to see them win last weekend courtesy of a Josh Drinkwater field goal. Drinkwater was playing in the Illawarra League for Helensburgh the week before and he certainly showed he can play at a VB NSW Cup standard after he guided around the Cutters at WIN Wollongong. The Bulldogs have named a good mix of youth and experience with Kris Keating guiding around talented youngsters John Sila, Paul Carter and Lachlan Burr. For the Cutters, former Bulldogs hooker Shane Pumipi looks to have settled in well and the former representative player will need to perform should the Cutters have any aspirations of still playing finals this year.

Talking Point: Time to get out of the Dog-House - Time is fast running out for the Bulldogs to force their way off the bottom of the table, however with the Roos playing the Sharks this weekend, the Dogs will know a win here would almost certainly see them hand the spoon, for the time being at least, back to the Roos. Such a proud club would most certainly not want to finish the regular in last place and there is no time like the present to do something about it.

Prediction: The Bulldogs have played their best footy of the season in recent weeks and can knock off the Cutters here. Dogs by 7.


Windsor Wolves Vs Newcastle Knights
Windsor Sports Complex, Saturday, August 3
Kick-off: 6.00pm
Referee: Lawrence McDonell
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)


Summary: Two of the form teams of the competition square off in what is arguably the match of the Round. Due to ground redevelopments at the Windsor Sports Complex earlier this year, the Wolves have five out of their last six games to be played at home which puts them in the box seat to lock in a top-four finish and earn themselves a second chance in the final series. Rick Stone’s squad continues to get stronger and stronger with two former NSW Blues in their squad with Anthony Quinn and Timana Tahu both named once again this week. Quinn has evolved into a very handy back-rower for Stone and he has been well supported by another back-come forward Siuatonga Likiliki in recent weeks. The Wolves currently sit five points behind the Knights and with their favourable draw in the coming weeks, a higher placed finish on the ladder isn’t out of the question. For the Knights, they are the same margin behind the Sharks on the ladder and their main focus will be to consolidate their current position and earn themselves a second chance in the final series as well.

Talking Point: The Penrith Knights - With Kyle O’Donnell, Sam Anderson and Wes Naiqama having all left Newcastle in the off season for Penrith, and with the confirmation that both Will Smith and Kevin Naiqama will be joining them in 2014, we can’t help but wonder who Phil Gould may be eyeing off on Saturday night? There are a number of off contract Knights players who have been told they are not wanted beyond this season, so perhaps the ‘Panther Pride’ may be a possible destination for some of these guys in the short to medium term.

Prediction:
The home ground advantage should prove the difference. Wolves by 6.

Manly Sea Eagles 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.

Source: www.nswrl.com.au


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