NSW Cup Round 16 Previews

Check out this weeks NSW Cup previews direct from the New South Wales Rugby League.

Cronulla Sharks Vs Western Suburbs Magpies
Henson Park, Saturday, June 26, Kick-off: 1.00pm
Referee: Gavin West
Broadcast: Coverage on HHH 100.1 FM from 1.00pm

Cronulla burst back into title contention last weekend with a 54-12 thrashing of Wentworthville at Ringrose Park, while Western Suburbs narrowly lost to the might of the Newtown Jets at Campbelltown Stadium. The highlight of the Cronulla and Wentworthville match was undoubtedly the return to form of Scott Porter. Everything he touched turned to gold last weekend and obviously word had spread because his performance earned him the Teamm8 player of the round award. The Magpies will be lifted by the return of crafty halfback Nathan Waters while for the Sharks, Luke Covell remains in the NSW Cup after returning from knee surgery. NRL regulars Andrew Fifita and Geoff Daniela have not been named by Tim Sheens for the Wests Tigers so they will more than likely be late inclusions into the Magpies side. A win for Cronulla could sneak them back inside the top eight with a favourable result in the Balmain Ryde-Eastwood and Auckland match. The Magpies need a win to stay in touch with the competitions top four. This is the first match of the double-header from Henson Park.

Newtown Jets Vs Central Coast Centurions
Henson Park, Saturday, June 26, Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Mick Laverty
Broadcast: Coverage on HHH 100.1 FM from 3.00pm

The second match of the double header has the third placed Jets taking on the 11th placed Centurions. The Centurions have named a near full strength side with Cameron Ciraldo, Scott Dureau and Keith Lulia missing out on selection for the Newcastle Knight's clash against the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday. The Centurions stunned the then top-of-the-table Jets at Morrie Breen in Round Nine 48-26 in a game which proved just how open this year's NSW Cup is.  The Jets haven't settled on a forward pack just yet with a number of combinations being trialled by Brian Smith at NRL level forcing Greg Matterson to do the same. Both teams have members being considered for NSW Residents selection. Centurion's winger Kevin Naiqama has been in prolific try scoring of late and is being seriously considered for a wing spot for the July 7th grudge match while for the Jets, backrowers Jason Baitieri, Jason Wells and Aidan Guerra have featured in discussions by selectors. Expect a close one here.

Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers Vs Auckland Vulcans
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday, June 26, Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Chris Sutton

Balmain Ryde-Eastwood succumbed to their first loss since Round Four of the NSW Cup last weekend against the Melbourne Storm at Olympic Park, while the Vulcans were smashed by the ever improving Windsor Wolves outfit 40-16 at Mt Smart Stadium. The Vulcans will be without the services of Kevin Locke and try scoring machine Pita Godinet. Locke returns to the NRL while Godinet faces an extended spell on the sidelines after he sustained a broken jaw in last weekend's match. Balmain possess by far the best defence of any club in the NSW Cup and Paul Fletcher's men will need to muster everything they can to keep this rampant Vulcans side under wraps. The mobile Tigers forward pack will cause the Vulcans the most problems. David Gower, Matthew Ryan and Jared Farlow have been able to create brilliant second phase play which has crippled opposition defences and if the Vulcan's forwards don't muscle up then the Tigers could streak away with this one. A loss for the Vulcans could see them drop out of the top eight and, with Godinet looking like he will spend six weeks on the sidelines, the Vulcans now face an uphill battle to make the finals in 2010.

Windsor Wolves v Wentworthville Magpies
Windsor Sporting Complex, Saturday, June 26, Kick-off: 6.00pm
Referee: Luke Phillips
Broadcast: Coverage on Hawkesbury Radio 89.9 FM from 6.00pm

Windsor's demolition of Auckland last weekend has them sitting two points behind competition leaders Balmain Ryde-Eastwood on the competition ladder. Windsor fullback Ali Beale missed Windsor's flight to Auckland because he slept in but Wolves officials would be pleased they made the extra effort to get him to New Zealand because he continued his rich vein of form with a hat-trick. Daine Laurie returns to the starting side and Wiremu Weepu regains his bench spot after missing the trip across the ditch for the Wolves. Wentworthville were ordinary last weekend and Coach Brett Kenny will be looking for improved performances from all except Lee Te Maari. Te Maari was by far the best in a beaten side last weekend and his recent performances have not gone unnoticed by NSW Residents selectors who will more than likely reward the former Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldog with a representative jersey. Wentworthville will be without Johnathan Wright for several weeks because has been elevated to the NRL squad for the suspended Timana Tahu.

North Sydney Bears Vs Melbourne Storm
North Sydney Oval, Sunday, June 27, Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Dave Munro

The 12th placed Bears have named the experienced front-row pairing of Craig Stapleton and Jaiman Lowe for their clash against arguably the form team of the competition, the Melbourne Storm. The Bears have lacked grunt up front in the early part of the 2010 NSW Cup season but surprisingly they only sit three wins out of the top-eight. The Storm players will be out to impress with no less than 10 players from their ranks being considered for NSW Residents selection. Toyota Cup graduates Luke Kelly and Gareth Widdop have been put forth by selectors and would allow Coach Jason Taylor to enter the game with a familiar halves combination. Sione Kite, Hep Cahill and Jesse Bromwhich are all also in the running for a representative appearance courtesy of their impressive early season form. With the Toyota Cup fixture between South Sydney and the Melbourne Storm kicking off at 1pm there is no better time to get out to North Sydney Oval to watch what could be one of the upsets of the year.

Shellharbour City Dragons Vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Ron Costello Oval, Sunday, June 27, Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Matt Hawkins
Broadcast: Fox Sports Game of the Week - airs 5.00pm Wednesday in HD on Fox Sports 2 HD (204) and Fox Sports 2 (502)

You have got to feel for the Shellharbour Dragons. They have been in some good form in recent weeks but they just keep walking into sides packed with talent. Last weekend they would have been licking their lips with the prospect of facing the 11th placed Centurions before they saw the names on the Centurions team sheet (McDonnell, Ciraldo, Dureau, Ndaira and Lulia). They were hammered 50-22 and this week they face the most consistent team in the NSW Cup, the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. In a reprieve for the Dragons, Ben Barba has finally been named at starting five-eighth for the Bulldogs NRL side after some notable performances in the NSW Cup and off the bench in the NRL. Replacing Barba is firebrand Joel Romelo who looks likely to continue his comeback with a representative jersey next week. Mickey Paea moves up into the NRL squad at the expense of Yileen Gordon who will start at lock for the Dogs. A big ask for Shellharbour here but they have plenty of firepower out wide if the forwards can gain some ascendancy.