North Sydney Bears Vs Windsor Wolves
North Sydney Oval, Saturday, July 16
Referee: Michael Laverty
Broadcast: Triple H 100.1FM (Link available via www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast)
Broadcast: Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast)
Summary: The North Sydney Bears came all so close to registering a rare win over the Sharks at Toyota Park last Saturday, eventually going down 30-28 while out west the Windsor Wolves 2011 woes continued as they went down at the hands of fellow cellar dwellers Wests. North Sydney enter Round 19 sitting in sixth place on the ladder but luckily for them all of the sides currently sitting between 5th and 8th all lost so the status quo remains for at least another week. The Wolves are still a mathematical chance of making the top eight despite their loss to the Magpies however it is almost getting to the point now where they are playing sudden death each and every round. The Bears field a virtually unchanged line up from the one that played so well against the Sharks while for the Wolves Coedi Towney is named to play after missing last week but they will lose Matthew Bell who has been named 18th man for the Panthers.
Game Breaker: Blake Judd - Not unlike Brock Molan, Judd is another one of these Bears workhorses that go largely unheralded from week to week in the shadow of his more high profile team mates like Burgess, Falloon and Apps. Judd has been one of the Bears best in recent months and has even managed to chip in on the scoreboard lately including a double against the Bulldogs a few weeks back.
Prediction: The Bears only need to duplicate their effort from a week ago to get up at home here. Bears by 12.
Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers Vs Newtown Jets
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday, July 16
Referee: Chris Sutton
Broadcast: www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast, proudly brought to you by Teamm8
Broadcast: NSWRL Match of the Round to be aired on Fox Sports 2 HD and Fox Sports 2, Wednesday, July 20, 4.30pm
Summary: The Tigers play host to fellow foundation club Newtown in what is always a tantalising affair no matter where these two sides sit on the table. The Tigers will look to put the disappointment of recent weeks behind them here as they face a Jets side that will be out to entrench themselves deeply inside the top four. The Tigers loss to the Vulcans last weekend as well as a draw with the Bears before that means the Tigers have now not tasted victory since a win over Wests back in Round 14, although they have had a bye and a weekend off during that same period. The Jets should be well rested having had the last two weeks off although this has done little to help their personnel concerns with up to eight players unavailable due to either injuries or NRL duties because of said injuries. The Tigers will also be down on troops with Sean Meaney heading up to Townsville with the Wests Tigers although there is some chance Wade McKinnon could be a surprise starter here if he doesn't make the trip up north.
Game Breaker: Faleula Finau - This former junior rugby star (before seeing the light of league) has been making a big impression as of late. A Balmain Tigers junior rep player who went on to play Australian Schoolboys alongside the likes of Ryan James and BJ Leilua, Finau has been chopping and changing between the Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers (NSW Cup) and Wests Tigers (NYC) sides thus far this year however if his two try performance from last week is anything to go by an NRL appearance before the season is out is not totally beyond him.
Prediction: Hard to tip a winner here with any surety but will go with the home side as they should be the more desperate of the two. Tigers by 4.
Manly Sea Eagles Vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Manly Sea Eagles Vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Brookvale Oval, Saturday, July 16
Referee: Gavin West
Summary: The Manly Sea Eagles belied their position of 10th on the ladder last round as they systematically dismantled a Wenty outfit that had no answers to the questions being posed by the men in maroon and white. The writing was on the wall perhaps with good recent outings against the Jets and Sharks however their totally dominant performance last weekend was one of a top four side and not that of a side stuck in a torrid battle to avoid the wooden spoon. The Bulldogs had to pull out all stops to avoid what would have been an upset defeat against the Centurions. Trailing 22-14 with less than ten minutes to play the Dogs scored once out wide through Goodwin and then a searching Cutler run followed up by a quick shift to the right saw Jake Foster crash over, and with Goodwin's resulting conversion after the siren, the Dogs got out of jail. The Manly Sea Eagles will welcome back Michael Oldfield after he once again made the most of an NRL call up last weekend and they may also get some more help depending on who suits up in the NRL on Sunday, with the Eagles naming 19 men and also rumours doing the rounds that Will Hopoate may also be fit to play against the Knights. The only change of the Dogs will be the return of Grant Millington who comes in at the expense of Conrad Taakimoeaka.
Game Breaker: Ben Shorter - While perhaps he was not the best on the park for Manly last week, he did manage to get across the line once again and maintain his lead as the competitions most prolific try scorer. This achievement is no mean feat given the Sea Eagles position on the ladder and that they are also ranked only 8th for attack in 2011. His match up against Bryson Goodwin could prove to be a pivotal one.
Prediction: If Manly can reproduce their stunning form from Leichhardt they will be a big show against a Dogs side that despite sitting atop of the ladder has been mixing its form of late. Manly by 2.
Central Coast Centurions Vs Cronulla Sharks
Morrie Breen Oval, Saturday, July 16
Referee: Luke Phillips
Summary: The Centurions were left to rue the one that got away last weekend when they were overrun late by the Dogs while the Sharks were also pushed all the way by the Bears but unlike their challengers here today, they found a way to fall over the line. The Sharks field an amazingly strong side here as they continue to push the Dogs and Vulcans for top spot on the ladder while the Centurions will be looking to post their first win since Round 14 against the Jets and also arrest their slide down the ladder which has seen them go from a top four hope a few months back to a side that is desperately hanging on to a top eight spot. The Sharks will be experimenting with Beau Champion in the six jersey here while the Centurions welcome back Peter Mata'utia and Kyle O'Donnell from the NRL and injury respectively. The Centurions should be desperate to return serve against the Sharks as they went down to Cronulla 21-20 courtesy of a last minute Tim Smith field goal way back in Round Two.
Game Breaker: Paul Aiton - The PNG captain is finding out that you have to fight for your spot in first grade no matter what your name is. With both the Sharks NRL and NSW Cup sides going so well at present, competition for spots is immense and you only need look at this Sharks line up to understand that. Names like O'Neill, Quinn, Collis, Williams, Champion, Smith and Wright wouldn't look out of place in most NRL sides and Aiton now finds himself behind fellow Cronulla rakes in Morris and Flanagan at the Sharks. There are not too many prouder footballers running around than Paul Aiton and you can expect him to be one of the Sharks best in the Cup, for however long as he is there.
Prediction: Impossible to tip against the Sharks given the talent they have at their disposal. Sharks by 8.
Wentworthville Magpies Vs Western Suburbs Magpies
Ringrose Park, Sunday, July 17
Referee: Henry Perenara
Broadcast: 2CCRfm 90.5FM (Link available via www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast)
Summary: The Western Suburbs Magpies head to Ringrose Park full of confidence after they won their first match last weekend since coincidentally enough defeating Wenty back in Round 11. Wenty had been in good form leading into last weekend's match against Manly and would have been confident of another win however they were comprehensively beaten by a much more intense and clinical Sea Eagles outfit. The Magpies will have to continue on without the services of Josh Davis however David Harris and new recruit Marc Russell have been in excellent form and that can be expected to continue here while for Wenty, their forwards were ok last week but they will be looking for more from the backs after an average performance last week, particularly some poor decision making late in the tackle counts. With both of these sides not necessarily known for their blistering attack, this one could be won by the side left standing in the trenches.