The NSWRL has confirmed Brad Fittler will take the reins as NSW Blues coach for 2018 and 2019!
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With the results from R5 & R6 still fresh in my mind I was able to tip 3.5 from 6 in R5 given the magnitude of the Warriors' massive upset victory over the Sharks on their home turf, while the Jets got their season going with a draw against the more fancied yet disappointed Bulldogs outfit & the Wyong Roos went within a whisker of causing another major upset taking the Wenty Magpies to the wire. As for R6, I tipped 4 from 6 with Wyong & Newtown causing upset wins over North Sydney Bears & Wentworthville respectively. The Panthers have defeated teams 1, 2 & 3 in consecutive weeks to reach 3rd spot going into the bye this weekend & definitely are the team to beat once more given their 4 game unbeaten streak.
The Round Seven teamlists for VB NSW Cup can be found HERE.
After a week's hiatus time to preview all the action that Round 7 of the VBNSWCUP has to offer.
Referee: Damian Briscoe
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of 2GLF FM 89.3 (Link available via 893fm.com.au)
BULLDOGS (12th - P6 W1 D1 L4 F 120 A 134 -14); NRL Experienced Players: (6) - Low, Inu, Cook, Kasiano, Maitua, Burr
TIGERS (5th - P6 W4 L2 F 147 A 126 +21); NRL Experienced Players: (8) - Koroibete, Lulia, Fine, N Brown, Murdoch-Masila, Paterson, Farlow, Buchanan
The Verdict: The Bulldogs under new coach Andy Patmore have struggled since their Round 2 win having only a draw to show for it despite fielding big names in their sides. The Tigers are coming off a loss but weren't disgraced against a very experienced Panthers outfit last Saturday. Noticably both Tigers losses this season have come when Blake Austin hasn't played such has been his influence on this side. Don't be surprised if Austin plays this game despite being named on a five man bench for first grade after starring in place of Braith Anasta in their win over the Cowboys last round, while for the Bulldogs, Kasiano although named won't be playing in this game having been called up to the first grade squad. Even if Austin doesn't play as well as the loss of Luani to first grade, I still think the Tigers will come away with the two points over a struggling Bulldogs side in this Battle of the West classic by a margin of 10.
Referee: Liam Nicholls
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via www.steelesports.com.au)
BEARS (11th - P6 W1 L4 B1 F 92 A 136 -44); NRL Experienced Players: (4) - Morgan, Tuqiri, Champion, Areaiiti
SEA EAGLES (13th - P6 W0 L5 B1 -93); NRL Experienced Players: (9) - Gutherson, Blair, Williams, Trbojevic, Sao, Symonds, Harrison, Iosefa, Lauaki
The Verdict: Another game between two local rivals who are both struggling in this competition. The Bears, having so long being one of the better performed teams in this competition are going through a rebuild of sorts having lost a lot of depth in the off-season & are bringing through some of Souths' most promising talents. That said Tuqiri & Champion gives this side plenty of guidance but having lost to the surprise packets Wyong last round at home, may struggle once more having lost Johnston, Neale, Picker, Lowe & Hyland for this clash. Manly, last on the table & with the competition's worst attack & defensive records, will be desperate for the win & have named a strong side thou expect a late replacement for David Williams who was recalled to their NRL squad for the game versus the Cowboys. In what might be considered an upset, expect Manly to get their first win of the season against the Bears by 4.
Referee: Adam Cassidy
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports 1 and Sky Sport NZ
CUTTERS (2nd - P6 W3 D1 L1 B1 F 122 A 88); NRL Experienced Players: (9) - Mata'utia, Daniela, Runciman, Green, Williams, Groat, Tia-Kilifi, Mataka, Garvey
WARRIORS (7th - P6 W2 D1 L2 B1 F 124 A 102); NRL Experienced Players: (7) - Locke, Hurrell, Tuimavave, Townsend, Palavi, Mateo, Lousi
The Verdict: These two teams meet again having played a 12-12 draw in Auckland back in Round 2. Illawarra have not been defeated since the opening round & loom as one of the dark horses in this competition while the Warriors are on a two game winning streak after an inconsistent start to the season. The Warriors boasts the likes of Konrad Hurrell, Chad Townsend & Feleti Mateo who will no doubt be keen to prove a point to new first grade coach Andrew McFadden while Kevin Locke makes his highly anticipated return from injury. The Cutters are certainly no pushovers however with the likes of Daniela, Williams, Groat, Tia-Kilifi & Mata'utia providing much needed experience to a Cutters side that previously had plenty of talent but couldn't quite compete with the big guns. I expect however the big guns in the Warriors to have that extra class & will run out winners by 8 points.
Referee: Brett Suttor
SHARKS (9th - P6 W3 L3 F 140 A 153 -13); NRL Experienced Players: (13) - Fonua, T Robinson, Stapleton, Hampton, Holdsworth, Manumalealii, T Robinson, Lichaa, D Fifita, Moors, Prior, Politoni, Rose
JETS (10th - P6 W1 D1 L3 B1 F 84 A 142 -58); NRL Experienced Players: (5) - Gallant, Moga, Langi, Taumata, Taukeiaho
The Verdict: A clash of two teams who both finally ended a run of outs with big wins last round. Cronulla having lost 3 in a row returned to form with a devastating first half performance against cellar dwellers Manly while Newtown pulled off a great upset win over the high flying Wenty Magpies. The Cronulla Sharks have named an extended squad including no less than 13 players with NRL experience including the return of Tim Robinson, Nathan Stapleton & Junior Moors but expect Mahe Fonua to be called up by the Melbourne Storm to replace the suspended Will Chambers, while Michael Lichaa could also get a call up for the Sharks. The Jets have named arguably their strongest side of the season with the return from injury of Moga & Casty but on home turf, I expect the Sharks to win this by 12.
Referee: Dan Olford
Broadcast: NSWRL Match Centre coverage available via NSWRL.com.au
KNIGHTS (6th - P6 W3 L2 B1 F 137 A 148 -11); NRL Experienced Players: (6) - Wiliame, Dobson, Fa'alogo, Waddell, Cuthbertson, Hilder
ROOS (8th - P6 W3 L3 F 130 A 142 -12); NRL Experienced Players: (2) - Corrigan, O'Meley
The Verdict: Expect the fireworks to continue in this local derby. Newcastle's season has been a largely stop start affair with their team possibly more than any other affected by injuries in the NRL squad forcing week to week changes. Although Cuthbertson has been named, he played against the Broncos while conversely expect Josh Mantellato to be a late inclusion in the Knights side. The Wyong side are short on NRL experience but under coach Rip Taylor, have shown amazing ability to field a largely settled side that has enabled them to build combinations & grow in confidence & belief in their ability to win games. Few experts would expect Wyong to have a 3-3 record & place in the top 8 going into this round & will be fired up against big brother. However I expect Newcastle with their class to rebound for another win once more on the back of Michael Dobson by a margin of 8.
Referee: Chris Treneman
MAGPIES (4th - P6 W4 L2 F 180 A 156 +24); NRL Experienced Players: (10) - Hunt, Toutai, Morgan, Pewhairaingi, Jones, Kelly, Paulo, Terepo, Lasalo, Foran
MOUNTIES (1st - P6 W5 L1 F 220 A 116 +104); NRL Experienced Players: (7) - Pangai, Sauiluma, O'Donnell, McIllwrick, Learoyd-Lahrs, Foster, Nicholls
The Verdict: Another big game this week for the competition's surprise leaders, Mounties who rebounded well from their first loss of the season against the Panthers with another resounding victory over traditional cup powerhouse, Newcastle last week. Wentworthville on the other hand return home having suffered a shock loss against lowly Newtown & after a strong start to the season have been struggling in recent rounds. Not only is this a top 4 clash but it also represents a clash of the competition's two most potent teams in attack. Wentworthville will be bolstered by the inclusion of Terepo & Foran & boast 10 players with NRL experience while Mounties boast an impressive NRL quality pack with the likes of Learoyd-Lahrs, Foster, O'Donnell, McIllwrick & Nicholls while leading try-scorer Sami Sauiluma comes up against another potent winger in Bureta Faraimo. In an extremely close game, I think Mounties will prevail by 6 in what should be a great game between these two Western Sydney foes.
Penrith Panthers have the BYE