FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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Last week the Roos pulled off the biggest upset win of the season defeating the Bulldogs on their home turf containing the likes of Maitua, Eastwood, Inu & Kasiano. With that upset plus Cronulla suffering back to back losses against the Knights, I managed to get 4 from 6 right last week.
Time to move on now & discuss R5 of the #VBNSWCUP
Cronulla Sharks Vs NZ Warriors
Remondis Stadium, Saturday, April 5 - Kick-off: 12.40pm
Referee: Daniel Olford
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports 1 and Sky Sport NZ
SHARKS (8th P3 W2 L2 F: 96 A: 99 -3): NRL Experienced Players: (11) - Fonua, T Robinson, Grothe Jnr, Roberts, Manumalealii, T Robinson, Lichaa, D Fifita, Moors, Griffen, Politoni
WARRIORS (10th - P3 D1 L2 B1 F: 62 A: 82 -20): NRL Experienced Players: (5) - Fusitia, Peyroux, Laumape, Gubb, Palavi,
The Verdict: In 2013, the Cronulla Sharks en route to the title did not lose until midway thru the season but this season have already lost two back to back games & will be looking to avoid a third loss in a row. They lost last start to the Knights away 23-16 but look the stronger this week with the inclusions of Eric Grothe Jnr, Mahe Fonua & Ben Roberts more than compensate for the loss of Justin O'Neill, Dayne Weston & Tupou Sopoaga & along with the Panthers boast one of the most experienced sides in the NSW Cup with 11 players with NRL experience. The NZ Warriors have been among the most disappointing sides at the start of the season & their inability to close out games came to the fore once again last week when the Tigers scored three tries inside the last ten minutes to snatch victory. Coach Rohan Smith's task won't be made any easier with the withdrawal of Carlos Tuimavave & Jarrod Wilson to injury along with the call up to first grade of back rowers Raymond Faitala-Mariner & Sebastine Ikahihifo. I think the Warriors will struggle with the late changes & call ups & at home the Sharks by 16.
WIN Stadium, Saturday, April 5 Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Adam Cassidy
Broadcast: NSWRL Match Centre coverage available via NSWRL.com.au
CUTTERS (5th - P4 W2 D1 L1 F: 84 A: 82 +2): NRL Experienced Players: (10) - Mata'utia, Daniela, Runciman, Green, Williams, Groat, Matthews, Tia-Kilifi, Mataka, Garvey
BEARS (7th P3 W1 L2 B1 F: 74 A: 76 -2): NRL Experienced Players: (5) - Tuqiri, Champion, Neale, Areaiiti, Lowe,
The Verdict: Two contrasting teams square off against one other. On one hand, the Cutters will be buoyed going in to this clash having back up their win over the Sharks with a solid win over the Newtown Jets 24-14 & will be looking for three in a row against a Bears side that was perhaps a tad unlucky to lose late to a penalty goal to the table-topping Mounties outfit last start. The Bears have seen plenty of changes given the Bunnies indifferent start to the NRL season having lost three in a row has forced Maguire's hand in calling up to first grade the likes of Alex Johnston, Luke Burgess & Jason Clark but the Bears do get the experienced Lote Tuqiri & Ben Lowe this week. Interesting also to see how Beau Champion goes into the halves partnering ex-Raider Jordan Worboys & goes up against ex-Bear Ryan Carr who will be keen for a big game against his former teammates. Another question for the Bears will be the goalkicking efforts of Aaron Gray given they outscored Mounties 4 tries to 3 yet still lost the game last week. I like the Cutters to win by 8 & make it three wins in a row.
Henson Park, Saturday, April 5 Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Jared Maxwell
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via www.steelesports.com.au)
JETS (13th P3 L3 B1 F: 40 A: 106 -66): NRL Experienced Players: (3) - Gallant, Taumata, Taukeiaho
BULLDOGS (11th P4 W1 L3 F: 92 A: 102 -10):NRL Experienced Players: (7) - Low, Inu, Cook, Kasiano, Burr, Maitua, Alaalatoa,
The Verdict: Two struggling sides come together desperate to get their first win for sometime. The Jets sit in last position having lost their opening three games of the season but finally return home keen to make amends in front to their loyal fans but will have to do it the hard way given the limited depth in their roster in season 2014 given the side announced is as per last week's squad. Canterbury on the other hand lose Greg Eastwood to the NR squad but regain the services of Drury Low & coach Andy patmore is still looking for his first win as a coach at this level. This game last year saw Canterbury knock the Jets out of the top 4 in the very last round of the season & the Jets will be hell bent on revenging that result. However with the class in the Bulldogs pack it could be another long afternoon for Jets supporters. Bulldogs by 14.
Sportingbet Stadium, Saturday, April 5 Kick-off: 3.15pm
Referee: Luke Phillips
PANTHERS (6th P4 W2 L2 F: 104 A: 88 +16): NRL Experienced Players: (12) - Yeo, W Naiqama, K Naiqama, Capewell, John, Anderson, Robinson, N Smith, Simpkins, Spence, T Eisenhuth, Cherrington
MOUNTIES (1st P4 W4 F: 154 A: 54 +100): NRL Experienced Players: (7) - Pangai, Sauiluma, O'Donnell, McIllwrick, Learoyd-Lahrs, Nicholls, Setu
The Verdict: The game of the round for mine with the undefeated Mounties having just got home last week against the North Sydney Bears, courtesy of a late Mitch Cornish penalty goal, coming up against a Panthers side that defeated the previously undefeated Wenty Magpies in style on the back of key players returning from injury. The Panthers now boast 12 players with NRL experience even with the return to first grade of Tim Grant & the promotion of Dallin Watene-Zeleniak for his NRL debut after blitzing the Wenty right edge last start. The Cutters lost both games against the Panthers' then feeder team the Windsor Wolves last year conceding over 40 points in both fixtures. Look to the battle up front between Sam Anderson & Kyle O'Donnell two former team mates from their Newcastle & Wolves days. While both packs look impressive, I expect the class in the backs at the Panthers disposal particularly led by the in-form Wes Naiqama to be too strong in what should be an exciting & high scoring clash. Penrith by 6.
Wests Tigers Vs Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Leichhardt Oval, Sunday, April 6 Kick-off: 10.50am
Referee: Chris Treneman
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of 2GLF FM 89.3 (Link available via 893fm.com.au)
TIGERS (3rd - P4 W3 L1 F: 106 A: 78 +28): NRL Experienced Players: (7) - Koroibete, Fine, Austin, Luani, Murdoch-Masila, Farlow, Buchanan
SEA EAGLES (12th- P3 L3 B1 F: 48 A: 112 -64) NRL Experienced Players: (8) - Gutherson, Satini, Trbojevic, Sao, Symonds, Harrison, Iosefa, Lauaki
The Verdict: The Tigers got out of jail late against the NZ Warriors scoring three tries inside the last 10 minutes with Blake Austin & Taqele Naiyaravoro prominent to maintain their top 3 spot in the NSW Cup. A side that doesn't possess as many players with NRL experience but blessed with plenty of talent coming through from their junior ranks, the Tigers have been very impressive thus far & will be looking to make it three wins on the trot against a Manly side searching for its first win of the season, having taken the Wenty Magpies to the wire but coming up short last start before their bye. Manly have arguably named their strongest side of the season to date bolstered by the inclusion of Tony Satini, Tom Symonds, Epalahame Lauaki & the new halves pairing of Littlejohn & Rudolph allows Gutherson to go back to his favoured fullback role. I like the chances of Manly in this game to cause an upset by a slender 4 point margin.
Ringrose Park, Sunday, April 6 Kick-off: 3.00pm
Referee: Liam Nicholls
Broadcast: Radio coverage courtesy of ALIVE fm (Link available via alive905.com.au)
MAGPIES (2nd P4 W3 L1 F: 134 A: 104 +30): NRL Experienced Players: (9) - Toutai, Morgan, Pewhairaingi, Hunt, Kelly, Lasalo, Paulo, Foran, Jones
ROOS (9th P4 W2 L2 F: 86 A: 106 -20): NRL Experienced Players: (2) - Corrigan, O'Meley
The Verdict: Wyong go into this side as the surprise packet of the NSW Cup having claimed two big scalps in three weeks in Penrith & Canterbury & will be looking for a rare back-to-back win against this week's opponents the Wenty Magpies. The Roos lack the depth of most other NSW Cup rosters but they have plenty of spirit & enthusiasm led magnificently by Mark O'Meley with Mitch Williams & Darren Nicholls also playing massive roles in getting their team in play off contention this early in the season only missing the top 8 on for & against. They come up against a Wenty Magpies that got a taste of reality in the NSW Cup coming up against a rampant Panthers side oozing in class & experience. The Magpies themselves will be better for the inclusion of Vai Toutai & Api Pewhairangi in their backline & should be too good for Wyong provided they pay them more respect then what Canterbury did last start. Magpies by 10.
Newcastle Knights have the bye