Wests Tigers v Newcastle Knights
Leichhardt Oval, Saturday 29 April
The Tigers will be looking to make it back-to-back wins in as many weeks at Leichhardt Oval, as the travelling Knights head to Sydney’s inner-west in Round 9.
David Heath’s men were rewarded for a hardened performance last week with a win over Blacktown, and they’ll be looking to build upon that effort with another strong showing against Newcastle this time around.
The Knights head into the clash on the back of consecutive defeats, their Round 8 loss to the Bulldogs made that much more disappointing given the fact the side crossed for four tries inside the game’s first quarter.
Regular Intrust Super Premiership NSW half Jaelen Feeney has again been named by Nathan Brown to star in the club’s NRL clash with the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday, while first-grade veteran Trent Hodkinson hasn’t been named in either side.
If Hodkinson is not to be a late-in for the Knights at Leichhardt, expect to see Tyler Randall share the hooking role, while also spending time at first receiver.
Illawarra RLFC v North Sydney Bears
Nowra Showground, Saturday 29 April
On the back of a big win over their 2016 Grand Final counterparts Mounties, Illawarra will ‘host’ the North Sydney Bears in Nowra, on Saturday afternoon.
The success over Mounties is sure to provide a much-needed boost of confidence for the defending premiers, who prior to that win, had looked a shadow of their 2016-selves.
North Sydney meanwhile resume here after a last-start loss to the first-placed Warriors, and while competing well for much of the match, were brought undone by the strike-power of the New Zealand backline.
An injury to the Dragons’ NRL captain Gareth Widdop sees Jai Field on standby to return to first-grade action.
Perhaps a surprise omission from the St. George/Illawarra 21-man squad named to take on the Storm, Shaun Nona will take his place for Illawarra despite murmurs he was a chance to make his NRL debut against Melbourne
Nona has been instrumental in recent weeks, playing a leading role with three try assists to his name in the side’s win over Mounties last weekend – earning the ‘captaincy’ in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Team of the Week in Round 8.
A win by 24 or more points to Illawarra would see them leapfrog the Bears into fourth place.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Mounties RLFC
ANZ Stadium, Saturday 29 April
Not since Grand Final day of 2016 has an Intrust Super Premiership NSW team taken to ANZ Stadium, though that will change here in Round 9 as the Bulldogs play host to the Mounties in a prelude to the night’s NRL action.
The Bulldogs head into this encounter after last week’s come-from-behind win over the Knights, while Mounties will be looking to bounce back after a thumping defeat at the hands of Illawarra.
Looking to keep touch with the bottom of the top 8, a win to the Bulldogs would aid their cause in breaking the log-jam of teams resting on six competition points after eight matches played.
Mounties meanwhile will be hoping to rediscover the sort of form that saw the side earn a dramatic point in their Round 7 clash with the unbeaten Warriors, putting aside the disappointment of their last-start efforts against the defending premiers.
In team news, Matt Frawley has again been named in jersey ‘20’ for the Bulldogs’ NRL side and is likely to play for Des Hasler, meaning NYC-graduate Adam Keighran will retain his place in the halves on the back of a try on ISP NSW debut.
NZ Warriors v Wyong Roos
Mt Smart Stadium, Sunday 30 April
The pick of the weekend’s play, it’s first plays second across the ditch when the Warriors host the Wyong Roos at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.
An affair set to excite and delight, the Warriors will be looking to keep their unbeaten run intact, though they face arguably their toughest task to date against the red-hot Roos who themselves are playing with plenty of flair this season.
The Warriors were asked to tough it out in the first-half of their clash with the Bears last Sunday, and they earned the rewards, going on with the job in the second-half to shore up their place atop the competition.
Wyong meanwhile edged the Jets at Newtown in a thriller, perhaps the three-point margin not indicative of their dominance and control of the contest.
Latrell Mitchell has been named in jersey ‘18’ by Roosters’ NRL coach Trent Robinson on the back of a solid outing for the Roos last Saturday, though his place in the ISP NSW or NRL this weekend remains to be confirmed – also named in jersey ‘20’ by Wyong coach Rip Taylor.
Wentworthville Magpies v Newtown Jets
Ringrose Park, Sunday 30 April
Edging the Panthers by a point at the foot of the mountains last weekend, Wentworthville return to Ringrose Park to host the Newtown Jets in Round 9.
A field goal was the only point of difference in the win over Penrith, as Wentworthville joined a host of teams on six competition points after eight matches.
One of those sides also on three wins, Newtown will be looking to bounce back after an improved showing against the Roos last Saturday.
The Jets, in going down by three points to Wyong, had their chances to snatch a late victory; though late errors saw chances to score – and the competition points – slip through their hands.
In team news, Daniel Mortimer has been named by Newtown to start in the halves, despite leaving the field of play heavily concussed last Saturday.
Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles v Penrith Panthers
H E Laybutt, Sunday 30 April
Rounding out the weekend’s play, the struggling Workers Sea Eagles host the Panthers at H E Laybutt, with both sides looking to get back into the winners’ circle on the resumption from last-start losses.
Blacktown sit above only the Wests Tigers on points differential after eight rounds played, however had put together consecutive wins prior to their defeat at the hands of the Tigers last weekend.
After a blistering start to the season, the Panthers have fell off the pace in recent weeks, though perhaps a win over the Sea Eagles here can breathe life back into their title hopes.
In team news, both sides are expected to field a similar if not identical 1-to-17, as to the teams that took to action last weekend.
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There were some big games with serious ramifications for the top four of the...