NSW Cup Match Previews - Round 15

Auckland Vulcans Vs Windsor Wolves
Mt Smart Stadium #2, Saturday, June 18
Kick-off: 1.00pm (NZST) 11.00am (AEST)
Referee: Craig Pascoe
Broadcast: Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast)

The Wolves head across the ditch for the second time this season and they will know anything other than a win will not be acceptable. Sitting three points outside the eight at the start of the round, the Wolves know a loss here could potentially leave them five points outside by rounds end. The Vulcans meanwhile can go a long way towards securing a top four spot with a win over their opponents, but having lost to them 42-30 at Mt Smart just over a month ago, they will be aware that the win will certainly need to be earned. After scoring a hat-trick last week against Manly, Glen Fisiiahi has been recalled to the Warriors and as a result Willy Peace comes into the starting line up while for Windsor they look to field one of their strongest line ups of 2011 with Taumata starting at the back and Yileen Gordon in the centres. Statistically this appears a mismatch on paper, however the Wolves have shown some promising form in recent weeks and with a win under their belt against the Vulcans already, this trip should hold no fears for the Wolves.

Game Breaker: Sarafu Fatiaki - Having had a taste of first grade already in 2011, the St Clair Comets junior will be keen to show just how far he has come in a short space of time when he lines up against a big and agile Vulcans backrow. Not afraid of scoring a try, Fatiaki will lurk out wide and hope to be a handful for the Vulcans fringe defence.

The Wolves will struggle to make the eight if they don't pick up these two points and an upset is a distinct possibility given their current predicament. Wolves by six.

Manly Sea Eagles Vs Newtown Jets
Brookvale Oval, Saturday, June 18
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Jon Stone
Broadcast: Triple H 100.1FM (Link available via www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast)

Summary: The Jets welcome back Pritchard, Mataka, Vaiotu and Takairangi after they all pulled on Rooster jumpers last week while Manly are desperately seeking a remedy for their second half fade outs. On numerous occasions in the 2011 season the Sea Eagles have either lead or trailed by a small margin entering the second half of matches only to hit a brick wall and be run over late. Newtown remain in the top four despite their loss to the Centurions last week but another loss here could see them fall as far as sixth by rounds end. Newtown are the only team to have not yet had a bye and given the heavy conditions some of their matches have been played in recently, perhaps the physical nature of their clashes has taken a toll on them somewhat and a gruelling match here on a water laden Brookvale pitch is probably not a challenge they will cherish right at the moment.    

Game Breaker: Rhys Pritchard - After spending some time being overlooked for the NRL at his previous club, Pritchard returned to Henson Park in 2011 and has justifiably made his debut in the top grade in recent weeks for the Roosters. Pritchard certainly didn't let Brian Smith down either as he filled in on the wing and then at his preferred fullback position last week. Pritchard should now have the confidence and self belief to dominate in the NSW Cup and a bagful of tries in the coming weeks would certainly not surprise.      

Prediction: If Manly can find a way to play for eighty minutes as opposed to fifty minutes, a win at home is not out of the question, but the Jets will not want to drop two in a row and may prove too strong late in the piece. Jets by 10.

Western Suburbs Magpies Vs Cronulla Sharks
Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Saturday, June 18
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Gavin Reynolds
Broadcast: www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast, proudly brought to you by Teamm8

Summary: When these two sides last played it was the Sharks who crushed the Magpies 56-10 at Henson Park, and not much has changed since then with the Sharks continuing on their winning ways and the Magpies are still propping up the bottom of the ladder. Try as they might the poor old Magpies just can't seem to find a way to ignite their season and unfortunately appear to now be favourites to claim the dreaded wooden spoon. The Sharks did go down to Wenty last weekend and as a result fell to third on the ladder but they will no doubt be looking to bounce straight back here and keep the pressure on the top of the table Dogs in the process. Scott Porter and Tim Smith are set to be reunited in the halves for the Sharks while Aaron Sweeney will make his second starting appearance of the year for the Magpies after he did so for the first time last weekend in their 24-6 loss to the Tigers.            

Game Breaker:
Broderick Wright - has been back in the NSW Cup for a couple of weeks and is starting to return to the form which saw him in the NRL for the majority of the season. He stood up against a strong Wenty pack last weekend and more of the same can be expected here. 

Prediction: Unfortunately for the black and white faithful I can't see anything other than a Sharks victory. Sharks by 18.

North Sydney Bears Vs Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers
North Sydney Oval, Sunday, June 19
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Luke Phillips
Broadcast: NSWRL Match of the Round to be aired on Fox Sports 2 HD and Fox Sports 2, Wednesday, June 22, 4.30pm

Summary: The Bears return to North Sydney Oval to face a vastly improved Balmain Ryde-Eastwood side. The Tigers were struggling with their halves pairing and it looked like things weren't clicking but since the return to form of Nathan Waters and the signing of Rhys Jack, the Tigers have turned their season around. The Bears are coming off a handy bye week where the medical staff was given a chance to tend to the countless niggling injuries players pick up throughout the first half of the season. Alex Ranieri, Shaune Corrigan and Deon Apps have all been named on an extended South Sydney bench to cover for State of Origin injuries and you would think Corrigan may be needed to cover for an injury to Greg Inglis. These two teams traditionally fight out close games so we expect nothing but the same here. 

Game Breaker: Greg Nichols - Nichols missed the start of the season with a knee injury but upon his return, has added some much needed defensive impetus into the Norths backline. Nichols scored one of the tries of the season against the Vulcans and his opponent in Jake Clarke will have his hands full this Sunday.

Prediction: Shaping up as the match of the week and a tough one to tip but will favour the Tigers as they seem to be building nicely for a finals tilt. Tigers by one.

Wentworthville Magpies Vs Central Coast Centurions
Ringrose Park, Sunday, June 19
Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Michael Laverty
Broadcast: 2CCRfm 90.5FM (Link available via www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast)

Summary: Wenty could be without the services of Chris Walker who last night proclaimed via his twitter account that he would retire from rugby league should NSW beat QLD in Harvey Norman State of Origin Game Two. The NSWRL has tried to get in touch with Walker this morning but has not received any response to its communications. Even if Walker hangs up the boots, the Wenty side still looks pretty sharp with names like Maitua, Humble, Mortimer, Peletelese, Hicks and Manuokafoa. The Centurions look to have the services of Ryan Stig here for the second week running after he successfully returned from injury last weekend as he has been named in the number seven jersey once again. The matchup between the two no nonsense locks, Danny Howard (Wenty) and Steve Southern (Centurions), should be a decent spectacle come Sunday afternoon at Ringrose.

Game Breaker: Tom Humble - Humble has made an impressive return to football in recent weeks and he will no doubt be causing a welcome selection headache for Stephen Kearney. Has the ability to play in the halves or at the back at an NRL level.

Prediction: Wenty must make the most of their strong squad that they are presently putting out on the park and aided by their home crowd they may be too strong for the Centurions. Wenty by 8.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have the BYE