Newtown Jets v Newcastle Knights
Southern Cross Group Stadium, Saturday 1 April
Broadcast LIVE on Fox League (Foxtel Channel 502)
The Jets return to a home – of sorts – after an opening month of the road, as they host the Newcastle Knights at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Saturday.
The Jets’ side, featuring a host of Cronulla Sharks regulars, will be familiar with the style and conditions of play at the home of the NRL Premiers.
Newtown clawed their way back to score a dramatic win over the Wests Tigers in Round 4, and will take confidence out of that performance into the clash with the Knights on Saturday.
“Everyone loves playing in front of big crowds, and I’m sure there’ll be another good turn out there
(at Southern Cross Group Stadium),” the Jets’ Sam Tagataese told NSWRL.com.au following the win over the Tigers last weekend.
“We just need to look at the areas we have to improve upon before the (Knights) game.”
Newcastle themselves prepare for the match on the back of a last-gasp win over Wentworthville last weekend.
The four-point triumph was the side’s first win of the new season, with the men from the Hunter out to capitalise upon that effort with another strong performance against Newtown.
Mounties v Wentworthville
GIO Stadium, Saturday 1 April
Mounties tasted defeat for the first time in 2017 last weekend, falling at the feet of the North Sydney Bears in a tight, rain-affected affair at Aubrey Keech Reserve.
Alike the Jets, Mounties will take to their Round 5 clash at the home of their NRL-affiliated club, the Canberra Raiders.
The 2016 grand finalists have looked strong to start the season and will remain confident in their chances despite their last-start loss.
Sitting in fifth on the Intrust Super Premiership NSW standings, points for and against have Mounties outside of the top four, in the shadows of Penrith and Wyong, who also boast six competition points.
Wentworthville head down the Hume on the back of a heartbreaking loss to the Knights in Round 4, and will be out to channel their efforts shown last weekend to claim the two competition points this time around.
Penrith Panthers v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
St Marys Leagues Stadium, Saturday 1 April
Rounding out Saturday’s action, the Bulldogs head west to St Marys Leagues Stadium, lessened by the loss of halfback Matt Frawley (NRL debut) to front the red-hot Penrith Panthers.
Garth Brennan’s men stamped their authority on the competition with an eye-catching win over the previously-unbeaten Wyong, thumping the Roos by a 32-10 scoreline in Round 4.
In team news, half-turn-backrower Tyrone May retains his place as an edge forward again this weekend, on the back of Corey Harawira-Naera’s impressive NRL debut against the Knights in Round 4.
Harawira-Naera retains his place in the Panthers’ NRL side, paving the way for Jarome Luai to start at halfback, with Darren Nicholls holding onto Penrith’s ‘six’ role.
For the Dogs, Lachlan Lewis fills the void in Frawley’s absence, sharing the playmaking duties with 2017 recruit Josh Cleeland.
NZ Warriors v Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles
Mt Smart Stadium, Sunday 2 April
1:45pm (11:45am AEST)
Broadcast LIVE on Fox League (Foxtel Channel 502)
Across the Tasman, the competition-leading Warriors welcome the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles to Mt Smart Stadium, who themselves are still in search of their first win of the season.
The Warriors have lit up the Intrust Super Premiership NSW competition to start the year, running in 145 points inside the first four weeks of the 2017 competition.
Buoyed by a hard-fought win over the defending premiers last weekend, the Warriors will fancy their chances of running in another big score against the Sea Eagles on Sunday.
Blacktown meanwhile, despite their four losses to start the season, looked an improved side in their Round 4 defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs at Lottoland.
“They are definitely the bench mark and have quality all the way across the park,’’ Manly coach Pat Weisner tells seaeagles.com.au
“Any Intrust team that can name Tui Lolohea on the wing has some serious depth and we will need to be at our best.
“In saying that, I believe our best is good enough to beat anyone and if we can defend as well as we did last week (against the Bulldogs), then we will be a chance in every contest.”
Wyong Roos v Illawarra RLFC
Morry Breen Oval, Sunday April 2
Their record blemish-free after the opening three weeks, the Roos were unable to keep their perfect start to the season intact, going down to the Penrith Panthers in a disappointing performance last weekend.
The Roos will need little motivation to get their backs up this Sunday though, as premiers Illawarra travel to the Morry Breen Oval, intent on bouncing back from their own last-start loss.
Illawarra, though not for the lack or want of trying, fell to the Warriors in trying conditions at WIN Stadium last weekend.
An air of speculation surrounds the fitness of injured Illawarra star Jai Field, with the Dragons’ NRL staff to make a call on his chances of lacing up the boots this weekend, late on Saturday afternoon.
Still on the injury front, Illawarra will be without centre Levi Dodd who suffered an unfortunate season-ending knee injury in the side’s seven-point loss last weekend.
North Sydney Bears v Wests Tigers
Chatswood Oval, Sunday April 2
Rounding out the week’s action, the Wests Tigers face an uphill battle to score their first win of the season, as they front the North Sydney Bears at Chatswood Oval on Sunday afternoon.
The Bears have proven to have the answers to any and every question their opposition has thrown up them thus far, heading into the Round 5 clash on the back of four-consecutive wins.
“We’re all disappointed, but I think that’s a good thing. It’d be negative if we weren’t,” Wests Tigers coach David Heath tells NSWRL.com.au
“I thought we really lifted against the Jets last weekend, I was proud of how the boys hung tough. A better performance it was, but we’re still chasing that first result – we’re hungrier than ever for those two competition points.
“A job too hard? Not at all. I don’t think it’s daunting, I know the boys feel the same way.”
In team news, the Bears may welcome back club-leading try-scorer Sitiveni Moceidreke, after he made his NRL debut in South Sydney Rabbitohs’ Round 4 clash with the Sydney Roosters.