Wyong Roos vs. North Sydney Bears
Morry Breen Reserve, Saturday 8 July
The Wyong Roos will be out to extend their lead on top of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW ladder when they host a struggling North Sydney Bears outfit to kick off Round 18 this Saturday afternoon.
The Roos are on the verge of claiming minor premiership, with one more victory almost certainly sealing top spot despite seven games to go in the season.
Undefeated since Round 5, the Roos are coming off another convincing 48-14 victory over the Newtown Jets and will be looking to continue their good run of form, with the likes of Luke Sharpe and Mitch Williams at the cornerstone of their success this season.
The North Sydney Bears will be desperate for a much-needed two points after back-to-back losses to the Bulldogs and Panthers. Despite maintaining the best defensive record of the competition so far, they will be looking to improve their attacking efforts this weekend having scored the least amount of points of any team in 2017.
Eli Levido has been a revelation since his switch to fullback halfway through the season, with his two-try performance against the Panthers almost inspiring an upset victory.
Newtown Jets vs. Wentworthville Magpies
Henson Park, Saturday 8 July
The Newtown Jets will be searching for their first win since Round 14 with three consecutive losses sitting them second-last on the competition ladder. With a host of their starting side earning first-grade selections for the Sharks during the Origin period, two points will be incredibly valuable in the hopes of claiming a top-eight finish.
Look for Jesse Ramien to continue his blistering form – coming off a hat-trick of tries in their 48-14 loss to the Wyong Roos.
The Wentworthville Magpies have arguably been one for the form sides over the past three weeks, with strong victories over the Tigers, Mounties and Workers putting laying a strong platform to build an almighty charge towards a potential finals appearance.
Boasting the third-best attack in the competition, a win this weekend could see them climb as high as sixth as they head into their second last bye of the season in Round 19.
Penrith Panthers vs. Blacktown Workers
Pepper Stadium, Saturday 8 July
The Panthers will be out to claim their fourth victory in a row as they look to find some consistency in their performances to keep hold of their spot in the top four. After a hard-fought win over the Bears on Friday night, their rock solid defensive efforts in recent weeks will no doubt be tested against the attacking prowess of the Blacktown Workers.
Turning their season around after a poor start to the 2017 season, Blacktown’s recent success is largely thanks to the stable halves pairing of Jackson Hastings and Cameron Cullen. Their first-grade experience has been invaluable to a rather young side, but will be looking to avenge their last-start defeat to the Magpies on Sunday afternoon.
Having been kept to just two tries in their loss, expect a much-improved attacking performance against the Panthers after averaging over 30 points per game between their byes in Round 12 and 16.
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs vs. Newcastle Knights
Belmore Sports Ground, Sunday 9 July
The Bulldogs will be looking to keep their undefeated streak alive when they a take on a Newcastle Knights outfit who are clinging onto eighth place on the competition ladder.
The Bulldogs have certainly staked their claims as a genuine competition heavyweight with a remarkable come from behind victory over the Warriors last weekend – their fourth victory in a row and their fifth in seven games.
Undefeated since Round 9 with two draws in between their victories, another win over a fellow top-eight contender will no doubt reinforce their premiership credentials.
Back-to-back wins over Illawarra and Wests Tigers has finally seen the Knights find some consistency in 2017, with their attacking ability on show over the past two weeks after averaging nearly 40 points per game.
The addition of Brock Lamb in their side last weekend reaped dividends for Newcastle, with a victory this weekend being imperative to their chances of a finals birth this season.