The 2008 NSW Super League season is unravelling as a tightly-fought affair ahead of round 14 action this weekend. Parramatta ? who take on Granville ? fluffed its chance to reel in league-leaders Bonnyrigg, who can re-establish their six-point advantage with a good showing against strugglers Sydney Uni on Sunday.
Another key match-up is the game between top-five sides St George and Liverpool, while Central Coast will look to build on their midweek win when they tackle Northern Tigers.
Where there?s smoke there?s fire, and it?s sure to be smokin? when top-five combatants St George Saints meet Bossy Liverpool at Belmore Sports Ground on Saturday night (7.30pm kick-off). The two sides are locked together on 19 points – one ahead of Fraser Park and Granville- and they could both drop out of the top-five should results go against them. History suggests this will be a pretty even contest after a 0-0 draw in their first Super League match, in 2006, was followed by 2-1 home wins to both sides last year.
Rockdale City Suns tackle Fairfield City Lions at Norford Park on Saturday night (7.30pm) in a must-win game for both teams. Rockdale needs to stay in touch with the top-five, and skip away from bottom club Fairfield, who is facing a tough task of their own in avoiding relegation. The Lions are three points behind Sydney Uni. Rockdale boasts the only win out of four Super League encounters with Fairfield, a 2-1 win at Norford in 2006, as draws were played out in their other three meetings.
A plucky Mount Druitt Town Rangers can continue their steady rise up the ladder when they travel to Fraser Park to take on the Dragons on Sunday afternoon (3pm kick-off). Mount Druitt has showed great fortitude in registering just three losses from 12 games – six draws demonstrating how hard they are to break down. The Rangers can draw alongside fifth-placed Fraser Park with a win on Sunday. The Dragons won last year?s Fraser Park meeting 1-0 after being pipped 3-2 at Popondetta earlier in the year.
Neighbours Granville Rage and PCYC Parramatta Eagles go hammer and tong at Melita Stadium on Sunday (3pm). Granville sit just outside the top-five on points difference, while second-placed Parramatta have struggled to find and keep any momentum ? a 1-1 draw with Mount Druitt last week allowing Bonnyrigg to maintain their edge. The Eagles are yet to beat the Rage in Super League after last year?s 2-2 draw at Garside and shock 2-1 loss at Melita, two weeks before Parramatta made the finals.
Central Coast Lightning will have to be on top of their game to beat Northern Tigers at Mills Park on Sunday (3pm). The Lightning inched closer to the top-five with a 2-0 win over Uni on Tuesday night, but the Tigers will also be coming off a gritty 0-0 draw with arch-rivals Bonnyrigg. Northern hold a psychological advantage having beaten Central Coast three times from four Super League meetings. This will be their first match against each other at Mills Park.
League leaders Bonnyrigg White Eagles won?t be treating Sydney University easy at Uni Oval on Sunday (3pm), but they will be keen to return to the winner?s circle. The defending champions haven?t won since May and come up against a Uni side who has just lost the services of coach Bruce Tilt. The past doesn?t shine too kindly on Uni either with just one win against Bonnyrigg from four meetings. The White Eagles won last year?s corresponding round over Uni 4-0.
Tilt had his contract terminated a fortnight ago after inconsistent results consigned Uni to second last position. Blooding a number of young players, to replace senior players unavailable due to injury, extended honeymoons and work commitments, signalled Tilt?s downfall, even though the youngsters performed well against the odds. The experienced campaigner was disappointed but hoped to be back in the coaching fold soon.
-By Daniel De Nardi