Western Suburbs Magpies Intrust Super Premiership side will look to record their third consecutive victory on Sunday when they take on the St. George Dragons.
After gritty wins over North Sydney and Blacktown Workers in the past fortnight, Brett Hodgson's side will take to the field at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday full of confidence that they can chalk up three wins in a row — something the third-placed Magpies are yet to do this year despite their strong season to date.
A number of close losses (from winnable positions too) are perhaps the only thing holding Western Suburbs back from sitting on top of the Intrust Super Premiership ladder heading into the final few weeks of the year with just one heavy defeat to note from the season so far. That loss came against the Dragons when they met earlier this year, and while Sunday's team it's a very different side from the one that ran out that day, the desire to make amends for their earlier defeat will no doubt stay just the same for Wests.
Captain Luke Garner looms as one to watch again after the in-form forward was rewarded with a top 30 contract at Wests Tigers for the remainder of season 2018 as well as the coming two years.
Garner pleased with Magpies' defensive progress
With a potential first-grade spot on the line, Garner will no doubt be looking to push his claims to Ivan Cleary over the back half of the year — as will a number of experienced players set to line up for the Magpies on Sunday including Jacob Liddle, Pita Godinet, Tyson Gamble and Chris McQueen.
In amongst that experience is more than a fair sprinkling of youth, however, with three Jersey Flegg-eligible players set to take to the field in Dylan Smith, Sam McIntyre and Alex Seyfarth.
It could also be worth keeping an eye on the late mail with recently signed prop Oliver Clark likely to make his club debut — a player who has featured in basically every junior representative side throughout his career so far and stands to be a real player to watch at Wests Tigers over the coming few years.
In terms of the game itself, it's a traditional "four-pointer" for Hodgson's side with the bye next weekend while the fourth-placed Dragons will face off against the second-placed Penrith Panthers in Round 17.
The Dragons were surprising last-start losers to the Sea Eagles in their Round 15 clash at WIN Stadium but had won four of their last five games heading in to that one so they'll certainly be a side to watch out for.
Highlights: Magpies see off Bears
There's also a few interesting connections to note in this game — Dragons fullback Steven Marsters is the cousin of Wests Tigers first-grade centre Esan Marsters while Magpies utility Braden Robson could face off against his brother in Dragons hooker Reece Robson. Dragons forward Pio Sokobalavau is also well-known to his opponents this week after coming through the Holden Cup U/20's system at Wests Tigers, while Dragons lock Damian Sironen is the cousin of his opposite number on Sunday in Bayley Sironen.
Incredibly, Sunday's game is just one of two home games remaining for the Intrust Super Premiership side this year so make sure you're out there nice and early at Leichhardt Oval to help cheer the boys on.
Gates open at 11:30am AEST ahead of a 11:45pm kickoff with live coverage available via FOX League.