Brookvale Oval, Friday, May 20
Referee: Adam Gee
Summary: The Manly Sea Eagles are staring down the barrel of their fifth straight loss if they cannot muscle up and beat the high flying Sharks in this rare Friday Night fixture. Cronulla lost Isaac Gordon and Scott Porter to the NRL last week but it didn’t stop them from running up a cricket score against Wests at Henson Park. The Eagles showed some promise early on against the Tigers at Leichhardt but never really looked like winning the match. Daniel Harrison returns here for the Eagles after pulling out late last week while for Cronulla, a number of their regulars are up in the NRL yet still manage to field a very strong looking side. The clash between Oldfield and Tongia promises to be a good one as both players are lightning quick, and have great futures in our game.
Game Breaker: Tim Smith – After being a leading light in the early rounds of the NSW Cup, Smith was deservedly called up to the NRL and given his chance in the seven jersey. But after a run of indifferent performances, Coach Flanagan felt that Scott Porter was the man for the job and as a result Smith finds himself back in the Cup. Not too many people doubt Smith’s talent but sometimes his consistency and mental application to a game can be questioned. This is now Smith’s chance to exert his influence over this up and coming outfit and prove his doubters wrong.
Prediction: The Sharks should be able to make it six in a row here against the Sea Eagles.
Auckland Vulcans Vs Balmain Ryde-Eastwood Tigers
Mt Smart Stadium, Saturday, May 21
Kick-off: 1.00pm (NZST) 11.00am (AEST)
Referee: Craig Pascoe
Summary: The Vulcans had the bye last weekend and prior to that they were upset at home by the Wolves while their opponents in the Tigers look to have turned a corner in their season after some confidence boosting performances in recent weeks. Balmain was unlucky not to have beaten the Bulldogs a fortnight ago and then easily accounted for the Sea Eagles at Leichhardt last Saturday. The Tigers were not prepared to sit around and watch their season slip away and to their credit they went out and signed former junior, Rhys Jack. Rhys, the son of former Tigers legend Garry Jack, made an immediate impact off the bench last weekend and expect to see him playing more and more in the six jersey over the coming weeks. As a result Meaney will be freed up to resume the custodian role at the back while Mullaney may float between the halves, hooker and centre positions in the mould of a Tim Moltzen. For the home side, Glen Fisiiahi returns from injury while try scoring machine, Pita Godinet misses out through injury.
Game Breaker: Glen Fisiiahi – ‘The Fish’ makes his long awaited return from injury this week after missing the past couple of months with a serious leg injury. The Fish was burning up both the NSW Cup and the NRL prior to his lay off and it would not surprise to see him make an immediate impact this weekend. His support play running off the likes of John and Johnson will make the Vulcans one of this competitions greatest attacking threats.
Prediction: The Tigers season appears to have been re-ignited but the Vulcans may still prove just a little too strong at home.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Vs Newtown Jets
The Crest Stadium, Saturday, May 21
Referee: Luke Phillips
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 25, 4.30pm
Summary: The Dogs ably lead by a Josh Reynolds hat-trick kicked away late against the Centurions at Morrie Breen last weekend while the Jets lead the Wolves 8-6 at halftime yet didn’t manage to register a single point in the second half and went down by 16 in the end. Great to see Josh Reynolds has been named to make his NRL debut, replacing Michael Ennis at hooker for the Bulldogs this weekend. Reynolds has been a star in the NSW Cup for the past two seasons and is another example of a player that just takes that extra year or so to hone their skills after graduating out of the NYC. As a result of Reynolds promotion, Nathan Smith comes into hooker despite being dumped to the Bundaberg Red Cup just a few weeks back and Joel Romelo will stay in the seven jersey for the time being. Newtown through their relationship with the Roosters has been heavily affected by Origin and injuries and as a result regulars such as Steve Naughton, Justin Carney, Aidan Guerra, Willie Mataka and Mark Khierallah all find themselves wearing Roosters jersey’s this weekend.
Game Breaker: Grant Millington – Millington’s early season form in the NSW Cup was rewarded by Kevin Moore when he received a promotion to the NRL a month or so back. Unfortunately for Millington though, after it looked like he would cement his place in first grade he suffered a minor setback courtesy of an elbow injury. If Millington bounces back quickly for the Dogs here, it would not surprise to see him in the NRL again sooner rather than later.
Prediction: The Bulldogs appear to have recovered from their loss to the Vulcans a few weeks back and a win here is to be expected.
Central Coast Centurions Vs North Sydney Bears
Harker Oval, Saturday, May 21
Referee: Matt Noyen
Broadcast: www.nswrl.com.au’s Weekend Game-Cast, proudly brought to you by Teamm8
Summary: Despite a 16 point margin against them at full-time, the Centurions were still a chance of victory against the Dogs late in the piece last weekend in a match where the scoreboard didn’t properly reflect the closeness of the encounter. While at North Sydney Oval the Bears undid a lot of the good work they had accomplished in previous weeks by going down to Wentworthville in what must have been considered a disappointing effort by those within the club. The Centurions have lost outside back Keith Lulia for this one as he has replaced Akuila Uate in the NRL but their pack will be bolstered by the return of Cameron Ciraldo while the Bears have stuck solid and will field an almost identical side to the one that went down last week to Wenty.
Game Breaker: Cameron Ciraldo – Ciraldo is another star set to return this weekend following another injury lay-off. Ciraldo will add some impact to an already stocked backrow for the Centurions that boasts names like Steve Southern and Kyle O’Donnell. Many people remember the horrific broken leg that Ciraldo suffered back in 2009, and we all pray that he can now stay injury free to allow his talents to be showcased on a weekly basis.
Prediction: After losing at home last weekend to the Dogs the Centurions will not want to make it two in a row.
Western Suburbs Magpies Vs Wentworthville Magpies
Campbelltown Sports Stadium, Saturday, May 21
Referee: Michael Laverty
Summary: An important clash for both these sides as the bottom placed Western Suburbs Magpies play host to their namesakes in the Wentworthville Magpies. Wests were no match for a rampant Sharks side at Henson Park last weekend while Wentworthville posted their first win since Round Five when they accounted for the Bears at North Sydney Oval last Sunday. Wests welcomed Aaron Sweeney to the club last week but also said goodbye to Michael Stolk who has made the move to the Bundaberg Red Cup this week after signing with Mounties. For Wenty, Chris Walker returns from injury and will slot onto one wing, and this will see last week’s two try hero Troy Savage push into a centre position. It is starting to get to the point now where these are must win games for Wests while for Wentworthville, despite an indifferent start to the year they could unbelievably force their way into the top four by rounds end with a win here and other results going their way.
Game Breaker: Aaron Sweeney – a member of the victorious 2010 NSW Residents side, Sweeney has returned to the NSW Cup after a brief sojourn elsewhere. Sweeney’s size and aggression will add to an already impressive Wests forward pack. After an appearance last week off the bench, expect Sweeney to improve with added game time and match fitness.
Prediction: Could go either way but I will put my credentials on the line and tip the Magpies!
Windsor Wolves have the BYE