ICYMI, on Thursday the @NRL - National Rugby League released the 2018 #NRLDraw.
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NSW CUP MATCH PREVIEWS - FINALS WEEK 1
Newtown Jets Vs Wentworthville Magpies
Henson Park, Saturday, September 11
Referee: Gavin West
Broadcast: Triple H 100.1FM (Link available via www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast)
Wentworthville will head into their clash with the Jets without Etu Uaisele and Manese Manukafoa who were both suspended by the NSWRL Judiciary following their Round 26 match against the Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers. The Jets enter this match without a few regulars who are being kept in reserve by Brian Smith. James Aubusson, Lopini Paea and Mose Masoe are all named on an extended seven man bench for the Roosters clash against the Tigers on Saturday night.
Sam Aiga, who has been a more than capable replacement for Brett Kenny's side in season 2010, will replace the suspended Uaisele while for the Jets, Steve Naughton retains his fullback spot ahead of the impressive Luke Towers. An intriguing clash looms in the centres with Tu'u Maori facing off against Johnathan Wright. Jets coach Greg Matterson heaped praise on Maori saying he would eventually follow Kane Linnett up to the NRL in the not too distant future and, with Wright showing some good form in the NRL during Timana Tahu's suspension, we should be in for some fireworks. Two of the bigger forward packs in the NSW Cup go at it here and you would think whoever can get on top of that battle should go on to win the game.
Windsor Wolves Vs Western Suburbs Magpies
Windsor Sports Complex, Saturday, September 11
Referee: Dave Munro
Broadcast: Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast)
Broadcast: NSWRL Match of the Round to be aired on Fox Sports 2 HD and Fox Sports 2, Wednesday, September 15, 5.00pm
The Windsor Wolves will need to bounce back immediately from their 44-22 loss to the Magpies last weekend at Campbelltown Stadium. The Wolves looked lethargic and disinterested in what will surely have the Western Suburbs side brimming with confidence for their trip across the M7 for this one. Western Suburbs fullback Rhys Pritchard has been in career best form of late and the Wolves will have to watch his kick return because it was a thorn in their side last weekend.
Joseph Paulo returns to the five-eighth role forcing Ryan Walker to fullback and Ali Beale to the wing with Robbie Lee missing out. Western Suburbs' game plan will be simple. Play off the back of the superior kicking game of Nathan Waters. Waters, at times, looks to have the ball on a string and the back three from the Wolves will have to be on their games or Waters will take full advantage with one of his trade mark grubbers or cross field kicks. Wests are sweating on the return of lock Jamie Sharkie who may make a shock return from a neck injury while Frank Puletua and Masada Iosefa have both been named on an extended Panthers bench for their clash against the Canberra Raiders at CUA Stadium on Saturday. Can't split the two. Windsor may have a slight edge with the home ground advantage.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Vs Cronulla Sharks
Belmore Sports Ground, Saturday, September 11
Referee: Adam Gee
After a long and arduous battle, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs held off both the Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers and the Newtown Jets to claim the 2010 Minor Premiership and in doing so have booked themselves a week one showdown with the Cronulla Sharks. The Sharks virtually fell into eighth place courtesy of a Round 25 victory against the bottom placed Bears but they will have the benefit of being able to call upon the knowledge that they were in fact the last side to defeat the Bulldogs back in Round 22.
On that day the Sharks got home 32-8 and they were lead from the front by the likes of Porter, Kelly and Mannah, all who have been named to go around once again here. But with the Dogs not only returning to form but also returning to their spiritual home of Belmore this weekend, the Sharks appear to have it all in front of them if they are to cause the upset once again. This Dogs side is stacked with talent and the timely return of Corey Payne only gives a forward pack that already contains the likes of Brad Morrin, Tim Browne and Daniel Harrison even more power and go forward.
One Sharks player the Dogs will have to look out for is the Sharks Kyle O'Donnell. This young tyro is the brother of Australian and NSW backrower, Luke O'Donnell and has been in brilliant form for the Sharks in the Toyota Cup. He has recently put pen to paper for the Newcastle Knights, so NSW Cup fans may see more of him next year with the Centurions, but this may be the last time we see him in 2010 as the Dogs look good things here.
Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers Vs Melbourne Storm
Leichhardt Oval, Sunday, September 12
Referee: Henry Perenara
In what looms as potentially one of the closer games of the weekend, the Melbourne Storm will head up to Sydney to take on the Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers. Despite finishing seventh overall after 26 rounds, the Storm appear to have named one of their strongest sides for quite some time and would fancy their chances against a side that they have already had some success against in 2010. Back in Round 5 the Storm went down to the Tigers at Leichhardt in a tight affair 12-10 but then turned the tables around when in Round 15 the Storm was able to sneak home in Melbourne 30-24.
So with two matches played and only a missed conversion in Round 5 standing between the Storm and a possible result there, you would have to imagine the Tigers won't hold too many fears for this Storm side. In the Tigers favour though is the fact they possess the best home record in the competition having only lost there once in 2010 which includes that previously mentioned 12-10 victory against the Storm. Coach Paul Fletcher has his side up and firing as they head into this match and their top two finish guarantees them progression past the first week but they will be hell bent on victory here and thus gaining a weekend off.