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Preview: Round 22 VB NSW Cup

Jamie Anderson from NSWRL Media previews Round 22 of the VB New South Wales Cup.
Preview: Round 22 VB NSW Cup

Jamie Anderson

Auckland Vulcans Vs Canterbury Bulldogs
Mt Smart Stadium #2, Saturday, August 10
Kick-off: 12.50pm NZT, 10.50am AEST
Referee: Aaron Donald

Summary: The Auckland Vulcans will be looking to sure up their spot in the top eight with a win this weekend against a visiting Dogs side that will now be looking to wreak havoc on finals bound teams during the last five rounds. It really has been a season of what ifs for the boys from Belmore in 2013. Despite the fact that they have lost 16 matches and sit last on the competition ladder, it is worth noting that nine of those losses have been by 10 points or less and had they been able to win even half of those games, they would likely be set for a finals tilt as opposed to potentially claiming a wooden spoon. The Vulcans continue to enact a bit of a youth policy with a large number of their current squad all aged in their early twenties, and when you add to this a nice little sprinkle of experience thanks to the likes of Mara, Godinet and Waetford, it is not hard to see why our friends across the Tasman are thinking that they can go one step further in 2013 than they did back in 2011. The Dogs have named a near unchanged line up from the one that narrowly went down to the Cutters while the Vulcans have lost both Sam Lousi and Jerome Ropati for this all important clash.

Talking Point: Dazzler of a debut - Now technically it wasn’t Viliami Lolohea’s VB NSW Cup debut given that he did see some game time back in Round Six during the Vulcans 28-6 win over Mounties, but like they say in the classics ‘Never let the facts get in the way of a good story’. Lolohea’s four try effort against Wenty last weekend put his name on everyone’s lips and now we can’t wait to see what he can produce as an encore. Watch this space.

Prediction: Expecting this Dogs side to really test the young Vulcans, but the home side should get the points. Vulcans by 6.

Wests Tigers Vs Cronulla Sharks
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday, August 10
Kick-off: 1.10pm
Referee: Lawrence McDonell
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports 1

Summary: Certainly one of the clashes of the round here at Leichhardt Oval when the Tigers look to cement their place in the top eight while the Sharks look to continue to build towards September and beyond. These two sides head into this clash off the back of conflicting results last round with the Sharks posting a resounding 24-0 victory against Wyong while the Tigers were very disappointing with some poor discipline seeing them go down to the Jets 44-22 at Henson Park. No one questions the talent in that Paul Fletcher has in his squad but he has publicly mentioned that their concentration for 80 minutes can sometimes falter. The Tigers will be boosted by the inclusions of Matt Bell and duel international Lote Tuqiri for this clash while the Sharks will lose Slade Griffin but do gain the services of Tyrone Peachey.

Talking Point: All on the line - The Tigers should know all too well just how big this clash is. They appear to be sitting comfortably in sixth place on 24 points with the ninth placed Cutters some five points behind them with five rounds left, but a closer analysis of the Tigers run home shows that they are anything but safe. The teams directly below them in the Vulcans and Mounties will be heavy favourites to win their matches this round while the Cutters are gifted two more points for their second and final bye of the season. With games to come over the concluding rounds against both the Cutters and Mounties, the Tigers season may yet come right down to the wire.

Prediction: The Tigers will give a good account of themselves but the Sharks tip themselves really. Sharks by 10.

Newtown Jets Vs Manly Sea Eagles
Henson Park, Saturday, August 10
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Phil Henderson
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via the Broadcast page)

Summary: Another important game in terms of the makeup of the top eight here with the Newtown Jets looking to keep their spot in the top four while Manly must just keep winning if they are to have any hope of an unlikely finals berth. Given Manly’s poor for and against, it is looking more and more likely that they will not be participating in September, but if they are to have any hope, it is probably likely that they will need to win at least four of their final five clashes. This challenge looks a bridge too far however for the boys from Brookie when you consider they play all of the current top four sides during that stretch. The Jets run home on the other hand looks extremely inviting with only their clash next week against the Knights up in Newcastle looming as a potential loss. The Jets will be desperate to secure a top four finish and the second chance that this position secures, and with the likes of Michael Oldfield, Jack Bosden and Kane Evans all returning in the coming weeks, Jets fans will start to dream about going back to back.

Talking Point: Unsung heroes - The Jets of 2013 have a totally different look about them than the Premiership winning side of 2012. In recent weeks there have been a large number of players filtering up from the Ron Massey Cup via the Jets association with Cabramatta, and to a man they have been getting the job done. Gone is Daniel Tupou, Daniel Mortimer and Justin Carney and in has come Henare Wells, Ryley Jacks and Paul Rokolati. On paper, one might think that this year’s squad is not as strong as last year’s yet here we are with the Jets set to finish in the top four while last year’s team was scrambling to secure a position in the bottom half of the eight. Now history will tell us that with a Littlejohn penalty against the Cutters in Round 25, the Jets secured their place in the finals and went on to claim the Premiership, and while only time will tell us if this group can replicate that ultimate success, their season to this point has been a great one and most of the praise should be heaped upon their coach… Well done Matto. We look forward to seeing what the next couple of months brings for you and your players.

Prediction: The Jets can’t afford to drop these points if they have hopes of a top four finish. Jets by 12.

Windsor Wolves Vs Wentworthville Magpies
Centrebet Stadium, Sunday, August 11
Kick-off: 2.00pm
Referee: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via or on the Broadcast page)

Summary: The Windsor Wolves will be looking to keep the pressure on Newtown in search of a top four finish while for Wenty, this is just about their final roll of the dice. Wenty sit very much in the same basket as the Sea Eagles with at least four more wins required to have any chance of forcing their way into the top eight. Wenty do have the luxury of a bye next round, so an upset here against the Wolves, will keep their season alive for a fortnight at the very least. It remains to be seen whether or not Chris Sandow will take his place here for this all important clash with reports circulating throughout the week that he is heading up the mid north coast to a rehabilitation facility although other sources have indicated that he will in fact travel back to Sydney to play on the weekends. Windsor will still be fuming at what they felt was a poor decision that ultimately cost them at least a point against the Knights while Wenty continued their poor recent form last weekend going down to the Vulcans by 34 points over in Auckland. Lachlan Coote made a successful return from injury last weekend and has once again been named for Windsor while they will be without Geoff Daniela who has been called up to first grade. Wenty get back Mullaney and Pewhairangi with Hayne and Kelly both named for the Eels, and Mullaney in particular could kick start Wenty’s ailing attack almost single handedly.

Talking Point: Young talent time - Regardless of what the Wolves go on to achieve in the 2013 season, one thing is for sure and certain, if you are a Panthers fan, there is plenty of reasons to get excited moving forward. On top of all of the quality youngsters in their NYC side headlined by NSW U18s star, Dallin Watene Zelezniak, the Wolves have played a leading role in developing the likes of Bryce Cartwright, George Jennings, Daniel Foster and Kieran Moseley to name a few. In fact, all of the above have starred for the Wolves at certain times throughout the year and they will all have a big say on not only the Wolves 2013 Premiership hopes, but also on future Panthers NRL title tilts.

Prediction: Windsor is in a similar boat to that of Newtown and can’t afford to lose at home. Wolves by 10.

North Sydney Bears Vs Newcastle Knights
North Sydney Oval, Sunday, August 11
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Michael Laverty

Summary: Sometimes you just pray that a match lives up to the hype and this clash is clearly one of those types of games. At times this season, both the Bears and Knights have looked irresistible, and most decent judges would certainly see them as the two clear threats to Cronulla’s Premiership hopes. These two sides clashed back in Round 14 with the Knights scoring a clear points decision with a 20-10 win against the Bears on that occasion, but Norths will know a win this weekend will see them reclaim second on the ladder and they will be hoping that the home ground advantage is enough to see the result reversed. The Knights make just one change from the side that defeated Windsor last weekend, with Kevin Naiqama replacing Chanel Mata’utia, while for the Bears, in come Starling, Leslie and Fepuleai and out goes Roberts, Evans and Peats. Sunday afternoon at a picturesque North Sydney Oval, two plays three on the ladder, does it get any better than that? Surely not.

Talking Point: A touch of class - Darren Nicholls bagged himself a double last weekend in his sides 30-26 come from behind win over Mounties, and with Luke Keary set for an extended stint in the NRL, Nicholls more so than most, may have the biggest say on the Bears season over the coming month. He wears the [c] on his chest with pride and that is probably a mark of how highly regarded he is within the playing group and also by the coaching staff. Some may argue that with their absolute best squad available, Nicholls may not warrant a spot in their 17, well he now has a month or so to prove those people wrong.

Prediction: Easily the match of the round, either side could win, favouring the visitors in a classic. Knights by 2.

Wyong Roos Vs Mounties
Morry Breen Oval, Sunday, August 11
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Phil Haines
Broadcast:’s NSWRL Match Centre Scoreboard

Summary: Wyong will play their second last home game of 2013 here when they line up against a Mounties outfit that simply must keep winning to maintain their current place in the top eight. Mounties let a great opportunity slip last round when they couldn’t seal the deal against the Bears, eventually succumbing 30-26 while Wyong, try as they might, couldn’t breach a stiff Sharks defence, and went down 24-0 at Leichhardt Oval. Mounties have lost Bill Tupou and Blake Ferguson for this one although depending on what happens between the Raiders and Roosters on Saturday night, they may get Tupou or even Reece Robinson back. Wyong continue to field a consistent outfit from week to week and for the most part, their squad has held up well to this point of the season. The Roos will be desperate to post at least one more win in 2013 and their upcoming home fixtures against Mounties and the Vulcans may well prove to be their best opportunity to do so.

Talking Point: Foot on the throat - This author has seen a fair bit of Mounties in recent times and is alarmed by how good they can look for large periods of a match without actually ever really seeing that dominance reflected on the scoreboard. Last week for example, Mounties lead by eight at half time yet it felt like they should have been in front by far more. It was a similar story a few weeks back in Canberra when they lead the Knights by a similar margin at half time, and while they did go on to record a 12 point win on that occasion, it probably should have never been that close. If Mounties are to hold onto eighth spot over the coming weeks they are going to need to win matches, and given they are currently the only side in the top eight who has a negative for and against, it wouldn’t hurt them to win and win well. It will be interesting to see how they approach a match this weekend that they will start very warm favourites in.

Prediction: Mounties simply can’t afford to lose and that should be reflected on the scoreboard. Mounties by 16.

Illawarra Cutters 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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