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Auckland Vulcans Vs Cronulla Sharks
Mt Smart Stadium #2, Saturday, March 26
Kick-off: 1.00pm (NZST) 11.00am (AEST)
Referee: Craig Pascoe
Summary: The once much maligned Auckland Vulcans have looked anything but early on in the 2011 season, and they will look to make it three straight to start their campaign when they play their first home match of the year against the visiting Cronulla Sharks. The Sharks bounced back after a first up loss to the Jets, with a stirring one point win over the Centurions at Toyota Stadium last weekend thanks to a last minute Tim Smith field goal. The Vulcans were certainly guilty of not respecting the ball and the conditions at Brookvale last Saturday and this is an area that Coach Blackmore would certainly want his side to improve if they are to be legitimate contenders for the 2011 title. The Sharks just need to keep coming together as a unit, and with that, time should come the improved results.
Game Breaker: James Gavet - Gavet is a big as he is strong and opposition defensive lines are well aware of this fact. Much like most of his fellow team mates, Gavet is not afraid to pop a ball once he has penetrated the first line of defence and as a result the likes of Pita Godinet and Johnny Aranga are often found sweating on his runs. If the Sharks are unable to wrap up the ball during his carries, they may find themselves on the back foot more often than not come Saturday.
Prediction: The Vulcans have done enough to register two wins to start the year, but this will be their biggest test to date. If the Vulcans can continue playing with their usual flair and panache but also temper that with more disciplined play when required, they should be too good at home for the Sharks, but if they continue to hand cheap ball over early in the tackle count as they did in patches last week against Manly, the Sharks have more than enough talent at their disposal to make them pay.
Newtown Jets Vs Central Coast Centurions
Henson Park, Saturday, March 26
Referee: Luke Phillips
Broadcast: NSWRL Match of the Round to be aired on Fox Sports 2 HD and Fox Sports 2, Wednesday, March 30, 4.30pm
Summary: An entertaining clash awaits those in attendance at Henson Park this weekend when the Jets host the Centurions. Last year's clashes between these two sides threw up plenty of points and there is no reason to suggest it won't be the same again here. Kevin Naiqama heads into this one off the back of a three try effort against the Sharks last week while the Jets backline includes names like Pritchard, Carney and Graham. Probably the biggest change for both these sides in the 2011 season is their respective number seven's. Ryan Stig (Centurions) is a Knights junior who headed north of the border for a while but has since seen the light and returned home while Mark Kheirallah (Jets) has looked very comfortable steering his side around the park and his combination with Jonathon Ford is one that has the potential to lead the Jets to a title.
Game Breaker: Daniel Conn - I don't need to tell you too much about Daniel Conn as his talents are well known by all who have seen him with the Bulldogs, Titans and Roosters over the years but what I can tell you is that he has been one of the Jets best in the opening two rounds and is playing like a man that is hell bent on forcing his way back into Brian Smith's top 17