Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
5 days ago
Central Coast Centurions Vs Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers
Morrie Breen Oval, Saturday, June 4
Referee: Jon Stone
Broadcast: www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast, proudly brought to you by Teamm8
Summary: The Central Coast Centurions head into this clash off the back of their worst performance in quite some time after they were comprehensively defeated by the North Sydney Bears a fortnight ago at Harker Oval. Rip Taylor would not have been pleased with his sides effort as it appeared they almost threw in the towel late in the second half. Meanwhile the Tigers were able to make it two wins from their last three outings last weekend when they accounted for the Wolves at Leichhardt. The Centurions have regained the services of Shannon McDonnell, Peter Mata'utia and Simon Williams who were all unavailable a fortnight ago while the final make up of the Tigers team is anyone's guess as Paul Fletcher has named an eight man bench. One player who won't be playing for the Tigers is Matty Ryan as it appears he is another who is set to change clubs mid season with a move to Wentworthville looking like his destination. An interesting duel between two teams that are likely to hold equal belief that this is a winnable game.
Game Breaker: Peter Mata'utia - Fresh from making his NRL debut where he looked anything but an NRL rookie, Mata'utia should now have the self belief to dominate at this level of play. A strong runner of the ball with the ability to punch through the line and offload at will, Mata'utia will no doubt be a cause of concern for the Tigers back three all game long.
Game Breaker: Scott Jones - The former Shellharbour Dragon has been inspirational for the Jets off the bench in 2011. A pint sized dynamo that punches above his weight, Jones is proving to be one of the signings of the year despite the anonymity of said signing.
Prediction: This is a danger game for the home team but they have overcome the odds already this season and are capable of doing so again here, but it won't be easy.
North Sydney Bears Vs Auckland Vulcans
North Sydney Oval, Saturday, June 4
Referee: Henry Perenara
Broadcast: Triple H 100.1FM (Link available via www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast)
Summary: The North Sydney Bears face somewhat of a litmus test this weekend in regards to their finals credentials. There is little doubt the Bears are an improved side compared to the one that ran around in the 2010 NSW Cup, yet for all of that improvement who have they actually beaten? They have had the benefit of two byes already while most teams have only had the one, and three of their four wins have come against the bottom two teams on the ladder. Admittedly their other win was a convincing one against the Centurions up in Newcastle who were in fourth place at the time, but the Centurions were a shell of the team they had been and I'm not sure how much can be read into that result. Despite their loss to Wentworthville last weekend, the Vulcans still share joint top spot on the ladder and will not want to make it two losses on the trot away from Mt Smart Stadium. Johnny Aranga returns for the visitors which forces Glen Fisiiahi onto the wing while the Bears will take to North Sydney Oval with a very similar side to the one that ventured over to Henson Park last weekend. This needs to be a statement game for the Bears and wins like these can ultimately make the difference between finishing eighth and being bundled out of the finals in week one or potentially finishing fifth.
Game Breaker: Herman Retzlaff - The