Thanks to the NSWRL, the previews for NSWRL are in for Round 10 of the VB NSW Cup state competition.
Click here to check out the Round 10 VB NSW Cup team lists
Click here for details of Steele Sports live radio coverage
Illawarra Cutters Vs Cronulla Sharks
WIN Stadium, Saturday, May 18
Referee: Lawrence McDonell
Broadcast: LIVE on Fox Sports 1
Summary: The Illawarra Cutters will look to accomplish what 10 of the other 12 sides in the VB NSW Cup have not been able to do in 2013 thus far, and that’s defeat the Cronulla Sharks. The Sharks enter this round having beaten every side in the competition except for the Cutters and Wentworthville in 2013. Sitting four points clear on top of the table, Tony Herman and his troops will not be looking to take their foot off the accelerator on national television, so the Cutters will need to be at their best if they are to inflict the first loss of the season on the Sharks. The Sharks head into this clash off the back of a tough test against the Wolves at Centrebet Stadium last Sunday while the Cutters will be looking to make it back to back wins at WIN Stadium having accounted for Wenty at the same venue last Saturday. The Cutters welcome Adam Quinlan back into the fold after he made his NRL debut on the Gold Coast last Sunday while the Sharks have once again named a strong side, including the likes of Nathan Stapleton. Tyrone Peachey is currently the competitions leading try scorer (12) and is almost certain to make his NRL debut in a few weeks time when Coach Flanagan will call upon him, given the club is set to be without both Gallen and Lewis for most of the Origin campaign.
Talking Point: Then and now – The 2012 Sharks finished the season with a 12 win, 12 loss record and missed the top eight by a win and percentage. Fast forward to 2013, and the Sharks have already won 10 matches, and will be favoured to make that 11 wins here against the Cutters. So with 13 wins almost guaranteeing a side a spot in the eight, it is not unreasonable to think that Cronulla may have secured their finals berth by Round 13 if they can remain unbeaten between now and then.
Prediction: Look for the Sharks to make it 11 straight to start the year. Sharks by 8.
Summary: The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs made a spirited late comeback against Mounties last weekend but once again failed to secure a much needed win while the Vulcans also found themselves behind at half time against the Roos, and while they had enough possession to win three games of football in the second half, they too fell short of the win. Entering this round sitting in last and ninth place on the ladder respectively, the Dogs and the Vulcans will both be eyeing off a much needed two points when they square off this Saturday at Belmore Sports Ground. A loss here for the Dogs would see them in real danger of missing the finals for the first time in a decade. The eighth placed team is likely to be on 10 or 11 competition points by the end of Round Ten, and a loss for the Dogs here would leave them rooted to the foot of the ladder some six points adrift as well as having a considerable negative for and against. A win here for the Dogs though is a very real possibility this round as they host a Vulcans side who traditionally don’t travel well and are also coming off the back of what could only be described as an inept performance. The Dogs welcome back Kris Keating from injury which sees him partner new signing, Jack Littlejohn, in the halves and Romelo has shifted back to number nine while Jerome Ropati has been named at fullback for the Vulcans and along with the likes of Hurrell and Laumape, should provide considerable headaches for the Dogs defence.
Talking Point: Littlejohn, Big-job – It has been a miserable start to the year by the Bulldogs and issues surrounding their halves have certainly hindered their ability to gain any real traction thus far. In recent weeks, Trent Hodkinson has deservedly been playing NRL while Kris Keating has been out injured. Well Keating is now fit again and will help fill the void left by Hodkinson, while the club has also been pro-active and gone out and signed former Jet, Jack Littlejohn. This now means that the likes of Romelo and Massey, who have been filling in in the halves can return to their more favoured positions at hooker and wing/fullback respectively. Whether the Dogs can win or not is another argument altogether but on paper at least, their side definitely looks more balanced.
Prediction: Could honestly see either side winning. Vulcans by 2.
Summary: The Manly Sea Eagles will be looking to put their best foot forward at home this round as they play host to traditional rivals, the Newcastle Knights. Since registering a great win against the Wolves at Windsor a few weeks ago, the Sea Eagles have lost three straight to Wenty, Cronulla and the Bears, and have been outscored 124-24 in the process. The Sea Eagles started the year brightly and showed signs that perhaps 2013 would be a better year for them and their fans following a few poor seasons in 2011 and 2012, but despite their win over the Wolves, there has not been a lot of evidence of late, that this side can seriously challenge for a top eight spot. The Knights on the other hand are sitting nicely in the top four at present, and it was really only a heavy loss to the Sharks in Round Seven that has blotted their copy book at present. The Knights would have been happy holding the Tigers to just the one try last weekend given their dramas with defence at times this season, and they will be hopeful of a similar performance here against a Manly side that have only averaged 16 points per game in attack in 2013. Tahu, Houston and Redman come into the side for Leilua, Costigan and Adams respectively while for Manly, Esi Tonga returns to the VB NSW Cup after a few weeks in first grade and this will see Dylan Strickland move to lock.
Talking Point: Point to prove – A couple of high profile players will suit up for the Knights this weekend in Timana Tahu and Chris Houston. Knights fans may even argue that one or two more of their NRL team mates could have possibly joined them after conceding 44 unanswered points in the nation’s capital last weekend. Both Neville Costigan and Joey Leilua, who helped the Knights VB NSW Cup side to a two point victory over the Tigers last weekend have replaced them in the NRL for this round, but you would imagine that both Tahu and Houston will be hell bent on forcing their way back into that side sooner rather than later, and a big performance against a Manly side that is conceding 34 points a game should go a long way towards helping their cause.
Prediction: Newcastle should be far too good for Manly. Knights by 18.
Wests Tigers Vs Newtown Jets
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday, May 18
Referee: Tim Rutherford
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Steele Sports Radio (Link available via www.steelesports.com.au or on the www.nswrl.com.au Broadcast page)
Summary: The Wests Tigers came oh so close to knocking off the Knights in Newcastle last weekend, in what would have been their third win in eight days. Victories against the Bears and Cutters saw them take plenty of confidence into their clash with the Knights, and trailing 10-8 with around five minutes to play, the Tigers turned down a gift two points from next to the posts and went for the win instead. Now while the Tigers came up just short in the end, hindsight might suggest that they would have been better served taking the two points on offer, but perhaps it tells you more about this side, and their desire to win football games and not settle for a draw. They face a Jets side this weekend that should be well rested following their first bye of 2013 last round, and having not had to play a midweek game in recent weeks, unlike many of their VB NSW Cup counterparts, there will be no excuses for Greg Matterson and his men come full time Saturday. These two sides look evenly matched on paper with both teams fielding big yet mobile forward packs as well as a number of outside backs that can score from anywhere on the park. The clash between Taqele Naiyaravoro and Paul Rokolati should be worth the price of admission alone, with Taqele more of a ground and pounder while Rokolati has quickly taken over from the 2012 leading tryscorer, Daniel Tupou, as the number one man in the air when it comes to scoring from kicks.
Talking Point: Eight months later – It only feels like yesterday that we were watching these two teams going down to the wire at ANZ Stadium for the 2012 VB NSW Cup Premiership. Fast forward some eight months and these sides will square off once again, but this time it will only be for two competition points. The Tigers have been travelling along nicely despite having every reason not to be while the Jets would be the first to admit that their season has started off slower than they would have liked. The Tigers could find themselves in the top four by rounds end with a victory while the Jets need a win otherwise they will start to get behind the eight in regards to staying in touch with the bottom half of the eight.
Prediction: The Tigers have been in good form lately and can win at home. Tigers by 6.
Windsor Wolves Vs Mounties
Centrebet Stadium, Saturday, May 18
Referee: Daniel Olford
Broadcast: Radio Coverage courtesy of Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via www.hawkesburyradio.com.au or on the www.nswrl.com.au Broadcast page)
Summary: The Windsor Wolves went as close as anyone has in 2013 to knocking off the Sharks last week when they lead Cronulla at half time and were within a try very late in the game. Despite the loss, this new look Wolves side will carry plenty of confidence into their clash with Mounties, but will need to be near their best as Mounties come into this one off the back of a three game winning streak. Victories over the Jets, Roos and Bulldogs recently has seen Mounties move into sixth place on the ladder, and a win here against a top four side would give them a further confidence boost heading into a very winnable match against Manly next week, which will be followed by the bye and another guaranteed two points. The Wolves on the other hand have a tricky little run of matches looming over the coming weeks including tough away games against the Cutters at Kogarah next week, and a difficult road trip to Parkes to take on the Jets in Round 13. Mounties have named a near unchanged line up from the side that beat the Dogs last week although Wayne Dargan has come into the centres to replace Hayden Hodge while the Wolves also head into this one with a similar team to the one that went down to the Sharks.
Talking Point: Next man up – A fairly common mantra in the sporting world is the phrase ‘next man up’. Basically it is a reference to a sporting club that has such a good culture that they believe regardless of who is playing on any given week, that the ‘next man up’ can do the same job as the guy he replaces. The Melbourne Storm definitely have a ‘next man up’ culture and slowly but surely the Panthers are starting to develop this as well. With recent injuries to a host of first grade players, guys like Matt Moylan, Travis Robinson and Isaac John have come into the Penrith side and not missed a beat for the most part. There is a host of talented players on the books at the foot of the mountains, and for what it is worth, we reckon that Ethan Cook may well be the ‘next man up’ in terms of making their NRL debut for the club. Watch this space to see if we’re right.
Prediction: This is a danger game for the Wolves but they should be fired up playing at Centrebet. Wolves by 4.
Summary: The Wyong Roos head back to Morry Breen for the first time since early April, and will be ready to take on the Wenty Magpies having won two of their last three matches. The Roos have knocked off the Bulldogs at Belmore and the Vulcans in Wellington over the past fortnight, and will now get a chance to show their home faithful just how far they have come since they last saw them. Wentworthville’s hot and cold start to the year continued last round when they barely got out of first gear for the first forty but then rattled home late to just go down to the Cutters in Wollongong. It was a similar story the week before for Wentworthville when they trailed Manly at the main break only to come out and blow them away in the second half. Brett Cook would certainly be worried about his side’s inability to start matches quickly and would be hoping that Wenty can get out of the blocks faster against Wyong, who have shown to be fast starters themselves. In fact, when these two sides first met at Ringrose Park back in Round Two, the Roos not only lead at half time, but still lead until around 15 minutes left to play, eventually succumbing and going down 34-24. Taulima Tautai has not been named for Wenty this week but they will have the services of Ryan Morgan while the Roos get back Arana Taumata for this one and also welcome former Rooster and Newtown Jet, Jonno Ford to the club.
Talking Point: Slice of heaven – It was an amazing win for the Wyong Roos last weekend against the Vulcans in Wellington. Undoubtedly it would have been the clubs biggest win since they claimed the Newcastle Rugby League Premiership way back in 2009. This club continues to surprise in the VB NSW Cup. We know we have mentioned it before, but what the Wyong Roos have accomplished to this point of the season has been remarkable for a myriad of differing reasons. With no NRL affiliation, the club and Paul Stringer has, in a very limited time frame, brought together a bunch of cast offs, solid locals and some rising stars, and has already managed to register two wins from their nine matches, when many of the naysayers said they wouldn’t win a game all season. We are sure the boys enjoyed the win in Wellington last Saturday night, but as they say, you are only as good as your last game. Guess we will see how good Wyong are come dinner time Sunday night.
Prediction: Hard to think that Wenty won’t win given the side they have named, but Wyong will make them earn it. Magpies by 10.
North Sydney Bears have the BYE