Super League Round 16 Preview


Bonnyrigg lead Parramatta by three points, with Liverpool, Fraser Park and Granville trailing close behind. But the Northern Tigers, St George, Central Coast, Rockdale and Mount Druitt are still right in the mix with the post-season just seven weeks away. This will be their chance to kick on. For Fairfield and Sydney Uni at the bottom of the table, the equation is clear ? one of them will have to go.
A confident Fairfield City Lions host top-five side Granville Rage at Norford Park (7.30pm kick-off) in the only Saturday night game of round 16. Bouyed by their second win of the season (2-1 over Mount Druitt last week), Fairfield coach Aydin Cetinay believes the bottom-placed Lions can clear their immediate danger by taking back-to-back wins this weekend. Standing in their way is a wounded Granville outfit looking to re-establish themselves as a premiership force. The Rage beat the Lions 2-0 at Norford earlier in the year to make it two wins each from four Super League meetings.
Second-placed Parramatta PCYC Eagles welcome Central Coast Lightning to Melita Stadium on Sunday afternoon (3pm kick-off) in a match that?s sure to gauge where the side north of Sydney should sit on current form. After a slow start to the year, Central Coast has accelerated of late to throw their finals aspirations into the ring, but they will get a sure-fire test from Parramatta, a team tipped by many to face Bonnyrigg in the grand final (the top-two gladiators drew 2-2 last weekend). The Lightning and Eagles played out a 1-1 draw in round five, following split victories in 2007, making it anyone?s game again this time around.
Top-three side Bossy Liverpool will be cautious when they travel to Mills Park to tackle Northern Tigers on Sunday afternoon (3pm). Both teams won last weekend ? Liverpool 2-0 over Rockdale and Northern 1-0 over St George ? but the Tigers are starting to look a lot hungrier than their recent form has suggested. Historically, the Tigers can claim three wins from five outings against Bossy, including a 1-0 win at Moorebank in round five. Northern coach Hugh McCrory is adamant his players will need to dig deep to return the Tigers to last year?s minor premiership/grand final potential.
The shaken-but-not-stirred Bonnyrigg White Eagles hit Fraser Park this Sunday afternoon (3pm) to take on a vibrant Dragons club full of fire. After a tough 2007 season, Fraser Park hit the ground running this year and, admirably, lie in fourth spot. Competition leaders Bonnyrigg had two players sent off in last week?s 2-2 draw with Parramatta at home and will be undermanned (if that?s possible at the deep-pocketed south west Sydney club), if not a little under-strength for the game. The match will be a real test of character for Blagoje Kulevski?s White Eagles, as well as a great chance for the Dragons to spring an upset. Fraser Park have not beaten Bonnyrigg in Super League. 
Rockdale City Suns play Mount Druitt Town Rangers at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon (3pm) in a match vital for the finals hopes of both teams. The top-five fringe-dwellers have both shown they can match it with the top sides, with some stirring performances this year, but they are yet to announce themselves at the top of the leaderboard. Gaining the full three points from this weekend?s clash will inch one of them closer to a playoff spot. Mount Druitt thrashed Rockdale 3-0 in their earlier meeting, and split 4-0 home victories last year indicate it might be the Suns turn to scorch the Rangers.
St George Saints take their turn on the Sydney University minefield with a match at Sydney Uni Oval on Sunday afternoon (3pm). St George will want to quickly get over their last-minute loss to Northern Tigers last weekend with a solid showing against a struggling Uni outfit, who will want to get over the first 15 rounds of a frustrating season. The Saints easily won their round five encounter, 3-0, and hold the wood over Uni, who have notched up just one win from five Super League fixtures, but Uni?s infamous cricket pitch-come-football field has brought many opponents undone this year.
-By Daniel De Nardi