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Preview: Round 23 VB NSW Cup

Jamie Anderson from NSWRL Media previews Round 23 of the VB New South Wales Cup.
Preview: Round 23 VB NSW Cup

Jamie Anderson

Canterbury Bulldogs Vs Cronulla Sharks
Belmore Sports Ground, Friday, August 16
Kick-off: 6.30pm
Referee: Phil Henderson
Broadcast:’s NSWRL Match Centre Scoreboard

Summary: Such has been the dominance of the Cronulla Sharks in 2013, they have already secured the Minor Premiership despite there still being a month left in the competition. At the other end of the spectrum we find the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs who suffered their 17th loss of the year against the Vulcans last weekend and as a result find themselves four points behind the second last placed Roos. The Dogs gave the Vulcans the fright of their lives when they trailed by just four points late in the clash until a late Vulcans try saw them scrape home. The Sharks meanwhile were never in danger as they led the Tigers 30-0 at half time and ultimately went on to win 46-6. The Sharks have named a near unchanged line up here however Dayne Weston has been named to start in place of Siosaia Vave who will come off the bench. For the Bulldogs, they should get back both Drury Low and Joel Romelo for this one after neither made the trip to Auckland but they do look set to be without the services of Lachlan Burr. When these two sides clashed earlier this year back in Round Six, the Dogs pushed the Sharks all the way before ultimately going down 28-16, so the home side will feel that they may be able to pull off what would be a massive upset at home on Friday night.

Talking Point: Time for some fine tuning - After sealing the Minor Premiership last weekend, the Sharks could be forgiven for beginning to turn their attention towards week one of the finals series already. In week one they will take on whichever side finishes in fourth with the Jets looking their most likely opponent at this stage. The Sharks take on the Dogs (13th) this weekend followed by clashes against Manly (11th) and Wentworthville (10th) and will then finish the season with a bye in Round 26. Some people may argue that a side heading into the finals would prefer a tougher run home than playing three of the four sides near the foot of the ladder, but at this stage of the season, Tony Herman would know what he has to work with, and it will all be about putting the polish on their preparation heading into the finals.

Prediction: Definitely a trap game for the Sharks but they should still be too strong. Sharks by 10.

Mounties Vs Illawarra Cutters
Canberra Stadium, Saturday, August 17
Kick-off: 12.40pm
Referee: Michael Laverty
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports 1

Summary: So much on the line this weekend in the nation’s capital when the eighth placed Cutters visit Canberra Stadium to take on the ninth placed Mounties. The boys from Mt Pritchard currently find themselves on the outside of the eight looking in after back to back losses to the Bears and Wyong respectively while the Cutters have not lost since Round 17 and appear to be timing their run to perfection. The Cutters are fast becoming the ‘Cardiac Kids’ of the VB NSW Cup with a number of nail-biting performances in recent weeks. Their last three matches have seen them draw with the Sharks, defeat the Vulcans by a point and also sneak home against the Dogs by a try. Regardless of the fashion in how they have got the job done, the key is that they have, and as a result have now put themselves in control of their own destiny in terms of a finals berth. Mounties lost both Jordan Ropana and Jarrad Kennedy last weekend to injury but in some good news Dimi Pelo will be available here after not making the trip to the Central Coast. The Cutters have certainly felt the pinch of the Dragons recent injury crisis and as a result they have had to re-jig their line up somewhat but Paul McGregor will have plenty of faith in his players as they search for a win that may well put them in the box seat in the race for eighth place at seasons end.

Talking Point: Four seasons in one day - Back in Round 19, Mounties played their first ever match at Canberra Stadium and let’s just say the weather was a little bit all over the place. We had the lot… sun, wind, rain, hail and then a bit of each of those all over again. The weather forecast for this weekend doesn’t look particularly promising to be fair with an expected top of 14 degrees with a better than even money chance of rain expected on Saturday. But with this game broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports 1, the weather is never a deterrent when you are safe and warm at home. So if you are not a resident of the ACT and can’t make it to the game, just grab the remote at 12.30pm and press 5-0-1 to catch all of the action.

Prediction: A win to either side would not shock however will go with the home side in a close one. Mounties by 2.

Manly Sea Eagles Vs Wests Tigers
Brookvale Oval, Saturday, August 17
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Daniel Olford
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via the Broadcast page)

Summary: An important match for both of these teams for vastly different reasons. For the home team, it is their second last match at Brooky this year and they will be looking to go out with a bang while for the Tigers, a loss here could put them right back on the brink in terms of making or missing the finals. Currently sitting in seventh place on 24 points, a loss here for the Tigers could see them just one point in front of eighth at the rounds end with tough matches still to come against the likes of the Bears, Cutters and Mounties over the final three rounds. Both teams will be looking to stiffen up their defence here with Manly conceding 50 points to the Jets while the Tigers didn’t fare much better in Round 22 as they conceded 46 to the Sharks. The Tigers have brought both Josh Davis and Moses Pangai into their backline after losing Lote Tuqiri (NRL) and Matt Utai (injury) from last week while for Manly, Ben Musolino has been named to start in place of the injured Michael Chee Kam.

Talking Point: Once was a Tiger - The player that could potentially decide this match one way or another is the Sea Eagles number six, Dane Chisholm. A man who is no stranger to Tigers fans, Chisholm will no doubt be all fired up for a chance to play against one of his old clubs this weekend. The Tigers beat the Sea Eagles to the tune of 50-12 back in Round Three at Leichhardt Oval however Chisholm played halfback that day and he has looked far more at home in the six jersey of late.

Prediction: Feel an upset brewing as the Sea Eagles play their second last home game of 2013. Sea Eagles by 6.

Newcastle Knights Vs Newtown Jets
Harker Oval, New Lambton, Saturday, August 17
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Lawrence McDonell

Summary: Certainly one of the games of the round on paper at least as the third placed Knights play host to the fourth placed Jets. The Knights will be looking to bounce back from a 23-10 loss to the Bears at North Sydney Oval last Sunday while the Jets were convincing 50-32 winners against Manly but they will know their defence will need to be far better here if they are to head back down the F3 with the two competition points. The Knights will field a largely unchanged side from the one that lost to the Bears last week although they will be without Alex McKinnon who has been recalled back into the NRL while Timana Tahu will miss through injury meaning that Peter Mata’utia shifts into the centres allowing his younger brother Chanel to come back into the side on the wing. The Jets will carry the same seventeen into this clash from last week although Andrew Pearn has been named to start with Khalid Deeb going back to the bench. Marvelous clashes right across the park and with the Knights NRL team playing on the Sunday, there will be no excuse for Hunter league fans not to head down to Harker Oval for what promises to be a brilliant clash.

Talking Point: Home is where the heart is - The Knights exceptional record at home in 2013 faces three more challenges in the Jets this weekend and then the Roos and Eagles in Rounds 25 & 26 respectively. With all due respect to the Sea Eagles and Roos, the Knights will start prohibitive favourites in both of those clashes, so a win here against the Jets would certainly hold them in good stead in terms of remaining unbeaten in the Hunter for 2013. The Jets are the only side that currently sits in the top eight that the Knights haven’t faced at home this season, so the they will be looking to notch up one more milestone and make it a home-clean sweep of the top eight with a win this weekend.

Prediction: The Knights value their home record and will be desperate to stay in touch with the second placed Bears. Knights by 10.

Windsor Wolves Vs North Sydney Bears
Windsor Sports Complex, Saturday, August 17
Kick-off: 6.00pm
Referee: Liam Nicholls
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via or on the Broadcast page)

Summary: The Windsor Wolves will need a win this weekend to keep any hopes of a top four finish alive. Currently three points behind the fourth placed Jets, Windsor know that the Jets also have a bye up their sleeves meaning that they are effectively five points behind the Jets at present in the race for the double chance. The Bears currently occupy second place on the ladder following their 23-10 win over the Knights last weekend and with the Sharks having the Minor Premiership sewn up, the Bears will now want to hold on to a top two finish. The Wolves statistically speaking have the best attack in the VB NSW Cup averaging a tick over 30 points a game however one gets the sense that ultimately it will be their defence that will win or lose them games in September. The Bears on the other hand have the second best defence in the competition with only the Sharks allowing less points in 2013. The return of Guy Missio as coach at Windsor has also seen a change of playing personnel with all of their underage players returning to the Panthers Holden Cup squad, however this hasn’t stopped the Wolves from fielding a strong side that includes Anthony Cherrington and Cameron Ciraldo with Blake Austin moving back into the six jersey. Three big ins for the Bears this week with Peats, Tyrell and Everingham all named although they will be without Jeff Lima and Luke Burgess who have both been called into the Rabbitohs side to face Manly on Friday night.

Talking Point: It’s all about ME - No not me as in me the author, me as in M.E aka the ‘Missio Effect’. It came as a surprise to some back in mid-season when it was decided that Garth Brennan would relinquish his role as the Panthers NYC Coach and replace Missio at the helm of the Wolves. Fast forward a few months and now what’s old is new again and Brennan has once again taken over the reins of the U20’s and Missio is back calling the shots at the Wolves. Missio is proven at this level and has taken the Wolves to a Grand Final before, and he has now has about six weeks to see if he can do so again. It will be interesting to see how the team responds to the ‘Missio Effect’ on Saturday on what is a big day for the club both on and off the field.

Prediction: Probably the match of the round, favouring the home side in a coin toss. Wolves by 4.

Wyong Roos Vs Auckland Vulcans
Morry Breen Oval, Sunday, August 18
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski

Summary: The Wyong Roos registered their fifth win of 2013 last weekend when they played one of their most complete games of the season to knock over Mounties 24-20. The Auckland Vulcans continued their good form in recent times with a professional 22-12 win against the Dogs at Mt Smart. It would seem that there is little chance of the Vulcans falling outside of the top eight over the coming four weeks but the Vulcans would know a win here would almost certainly punch their ticket to finals action. Carlos Tuimavave returns for the Vulcans and will play at fullback meaning that Tangi Ropati shifts out onto the wing while for the home side, Marvin Filipo has shifted out to the centres and Shaun Boss has been named to start replacing Magnus Stromquist. This will be Wyong’s final home game of their inaugural season in the VB NSW Cup and they are sure to be fired up to finish up on a high.

Talking Point: From Wellington to Wyong - Perhaps the Roos biggest win of 2013 was their win over the Vulcans at Westpac Stadium, Wellington back in Round Nine. No doubt the Vulcans will not have forgotten about that and will be keen to return serve over here in Australia. One thing that may stand in their way is former Junior Warrior, Allen Malau. Malau bagged a double in the Roos win over the Vulcans that day and is coming off a four try performance last weekend. Malau has not been named here but will be given right up until game day to prove his fitness and will be desperate to take his place.

Prediction: Wyong will be keen to register their sixth win of the year but the Vulcans are finals bound and desperately need the win. Vulcans by 10.

Wentworthville Magpies 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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