Cronulla Sharks Vs Western Suburbs Magpies
Henson Park, Saturday, May 14
Referee: Phil Henderson
Summary: The Sharks had the benefit of the bye last round and were gifted the chance to rest some weary bodies, while the Magpies stuck it to the Jets for about 60 minutes but were eventually overran late in the match. The Sharks NSW Cup side has been somewhat disrupted by injuries in first grade with Isaac Gordon, Tim Smith, Taulima Tautai and Siosaia Vave all heading up to the NRL as a result, but given the clubs association with the Melbourne Storm they are still able to field a quality outfit. In other team news the Magpies have added to their forward stocks with the addition of former Windsor Wolves player, Aaron Sweeney, and while despite not being named, Rory Kostjasyn is still some chance of suiting up for the Sharks.
Game Breaker: Nathan Stapleton - We have mentioned Stapo already this year but his form has been exemplarily for the Sharks recently and must be considered very unlucky to have been overlooked for an NRL spot in recent weeks. An outside back that finishes backline movements regularly and effectively, kicks goals from the carpark and is underrated in aerial contests, Stapleton is your classic triple threat! Not sure of his contract situation but if he isn't playing first grade with the Sharks next year, he is likely to be doing it somewhere else.
Prediction: The Sharks should be too strong for the Magpies but given a few changes to their personnel they will definitely have to earn the two points.
Newtown Jets Vs Windsor Wolves
Henson Park, Saturday, May 14
Referee: Henry Perenara
Broadcast: Hawkesbury Radio 89.9FM (Link available via www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast)
Summary: The Jets continued their recent run of good form with an entertaining win over a stubborn Magpies outfit at Campbelltown last weekend, while the Wolves posted their first win of the competition since an 8-6 victory over the Tigers way back in Round Two when they knocked off the previously top of the table Vulcans in Auckland. The writing was on the wall for the Wolves the week before when they put up an excellent effort to earn a point against the Centurions, and given the wealth of NRL talent that they took across the Tasman, the result came as no real shock. Despite winning a few in a row, the Jets must be concerned with their recent pattern of slow starts to matches and then having to play well in the second half. But to their credit their second halves have been of the highest order of late and now need to start replicating those efforts in the first 40 minutes.
Game Breaker: Lachlan Coote - The Windsor Wolves junior looks set to make a rare appearance for his old club here as he begins his return from injury in the NSW Cup. If Coote is even anywhere close to full fitness he is likely to make his presence well known to those defending in the blue and white.
Prediction: The Jets will be favoured at home but the Wolves have righted the ship in recent weeks and an upset is not out of the question.
Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers Vs Manly Sea Eagles
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday, May 14
Referee: Grant Atkins
Broadcast: Triple H 100.1FM (Link available via www.nswrl.com.au's Weekend Game-Cast)
Broadcast: NSWRL Match of the Round to be aired on Fox Sports 2 HD and Fox Sports 2, Wednesday, May 18, 4.30pm
Summary: The Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers came ever so close to upsetting the Bulldogs last week at The Crest, and while they didn't get across the line they perhaps gave their fans a sign of better things to come. The same cannot be said for the Eagles though as they were never in their match against a rampant Bears outfit and the loss has seen the Eagles fall to equal bottom on the ladder. Sean Meaney and Jake Mullaney have swapped jerseys in a view to helping the Tigers shape in attack while for Manly their backline appears to have been strengthened by the inclusion of David Williams and Michael Oldfield. Neither of these sides have set the scoreboards of the NSW Cup on fire in recent weeks but the Tigers defence is still as good as most sides in the league and will pin their hopes of a vital win on that facet of their game here. Paul Fletcher's search for a man to play outside of Nathan Waters may be over as Wests Tigers have signed promising young Bulldog, Rhys Jack, who may even make his debut here.
Game Breaker: Andrew Pearn - Pearn has been a shining light for the Tigers off the bench of late and should be pressing for a starting spot in the coming weeks. Not too many props in the NSW Cup hit harder than Pearn and his clash here against the likes of Cross, Cunningham and Moujalli should be worth the price of admission alone.
Prediction: Balmain need only repeat their performance from last week to be winning here.
Central Coast Centurions Vs Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Morrie Breen Oval, Saturday, May 14
Referee: Alan Shortall
Summary: The Centurions are nearing full strength again and as a result they posted a comfortable victory over a depleted Wenty outfit last Sunday, while the Bulldogs used every one of their allocated 80 minutes to secure the two points against the Tigers at The Crest. After such a long winning streak in the NSW Cup, the Bulldogs have shown signs lately that perhaps they are coming back to the pack somewhat following a loss in New Zealand and a late win over the Tigers. They field a new wing combination here as well as a re-jigged forward pack while the Centurions look back to their barnstorming best with Siuatonga Likiliki returning from injury last weekend and bound to be improved for the run.
Game Breaker: Peter Mata'utia - Peter is currently only second to Nathan Stapleton on the point scorers list and has been a more than able replacement for Shannon McDonnell whose services have been required in first grade of late. It will be interesting to see what may happen with Mata'utia if and when McDonnell returns as surely he needs to be squeezed into their backline somewhere?
Prediction: After a loss to the Vulcans and a get out of jail job against the Tigers last week signs are showing that the Bulldogs are in fact fallible and the Centurions may just get the job done at home.
North Sydney Bears Vs Wentworthville Magpies
North Sydney Oval, Sunday, May 15
Referee: Michael Laverty
Summary: The North Sydney Bears posted one of their better wins in recent memory last weekend against the Eagles while Wenty were no match for the Centurions. The Bears have looked good in recent weeks and have perhaps turned a corner, while the Magpies are depleted of some big name players and must simply eek out as many wins as possible until they are full strength once again. Norths have shown they can score from anywhere on the park in recent weeks and the Wenty backline will need to be on their toes while the clash between Burgess and Peletelese should be one to saviour.
Game Breaker: Jay Florimo - A famous name in the red and black, Florimo has had plenty to live up to since graduating from the NYC last year but so far he has delivered on much of that promise. While his combination with Malcolm Webster is still a work in progress, there has been signs recently that it is about to pay dividends. Florimo also showed an additional string to his bow last weekend landing three conversions with the boot.
Prediction: The Bears are up and running at present and should have too many points for the Magpies.
Auckland Vulcans have the BYE