NEWTOWN JETS (4) v VODAFONE WARRIORS (5)
Pepper Stadium, Penrith
Sunday, September 11
Broadcast LIVE on SKY Sport 2, 8.00pm NZT (kick-off 8.35pm)
Fourth plays fifth in a blockbuster semi final this Sunday in Penrith, with the toss-of-the-coin battle to decide who plays Illawarra in a grand final qualifier.
The Jets, who had shown their class against the top teams on multiple occasions this season, failed to do so last week against Mounties; despite losing try-scoring machine Kato Ottio in the first half, the minor premiers made short work of the blue baggers in their 30-12 win.
The Jets will return to Pepper Stadium to take on the Vodafone Warriors, who are coming off a solid win in wet conditions at Mt Smart Stadium. After a second-half meltdown gave the Panthers a comeback win in ropund 25, they managed to prevent a repeat against the same opposition last week – although came closer than they would have liked in the second half. It was hardly a top-shelf performance from the Vodafone Warriors, but they demonstrated an ability to close out the game that has eluded them in recent months.
While the Warriors did just enough to stay alive in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Finals Series, the Jets were the major shock; they were on the back foot from kick-off against the competition favourites, with fullback Zac Santo immediately making an impact in his return. A total of 42 missed tackles is unforgiveable at this level and they will fail to challenge for the title unless their defence improves dramatically. The Warriors, meanwhile,
Aside from an extended bench, Newtown have named the same 17 that lost to Mounties and while a stable roster is key at this time of the year, the players will need to have improved in their eight-day turnaround. The Warriors will not play another home game in 2016 and face the unfavourable task of crossing the Tasman to defeat Sydney teams, but the inclusions of Ken Maumalo and Jazz Tevaga will help on this front. It is an appetising fixture that will be shown live on Fox Sports to a large audience.
WHERE IT WILL BE WON:
Much has been made of the Warriors’ second half struggles and while fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad has assured that it isn’t a worry for the side, they will need to contend with it again this week. The big Newtown bench of Kurt Dillon, Kurt Kara, Harrison Muller and Kenny Niko contributes significantly to their go-forward and will ensure that the Jets don’t let up in attack at any point throughout the 80 minutes. For the Jets, the issue is clearly in defence; last week they leaked 30 points against Mounties for the second time in a month and throughout that period, they have averaged 27.5 points conceded per game.
In attack, the back three for either side will do wonders in both gaining metres and putting points on the board. The combination of Nicoll Klokstad – who has been shifted from the centres this week – Henare Wells and the returning Maumalo is a potent one, while the Jets’ Jaline Graham, Travis Robinson and Jacob Gagan form a trio that is experienced in big games and will contribute to a lot of metres coming out of their own half. Defensively, everyone needs to buy in but key for Newtown are their halves, who were asked questions of last week by Mounties’ forwards.
- Newtown: Corin Smith, Brett Anderson
- Vodafone Warriors: Ken Maumalo, Jazz Tevaga, Nathaniel Roache, Marata Niukore
- Newtown: (none)
- Vodafone Warriors: Ligi Sao, Junior Pauga