Wests Tigers Intrust Super Premiership side, Western Suburbs Magpies, will be looking for a dominant performance in their final home game of the year this Saturday as they take on Mounties RLFC at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Having played their last four matches all at home grounds, Western Suburbs will run out for their final home game of the regular season on Saturday before a remarkable run of six straight away matches to end the year — including several tough away trips to Canberra, Wyong, Belmore and the Northern Beaches.
With seven games remaining in the regular season, Brett Hodgson's side are still sitting pretty inside the top four and have plenty to play for with a potential minor premiership not out of reach for the team.
Currently, the Magpies sit three points back from the top-of-the-table Penrith Panthers (who have a tough away trip to New Zealand this weekend) and level on points with Mounties in second — meaning that Saturday's results could see them close the gap even further at the top of the table.
The precarious nature of the ladder this year sees just three wins separating second and ninth, and they'll be determined to ensure that their top four spot is locked in with a number of tough games coming up.
Yet to play Mounties this year, Western Suburbs will field a very strong side for Sunday's game — headlined by the all-NRL spine of Tuimoala Lolohea, Tyson Gamble, Pita Godinet and Jacob Liddle.
Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Chris McQueen and Robbie Rochow have also been named, while Luke Garner and Oliver Clark will be out to impress following their recent signings to the extended NRL squad.
After missing the past two matches with a hamstring injury, former Junior Kiwi Watson Heleta has been included amongst the reserves alongside promising development player Sam McIntyre — both of whom will be giving Coach Hodgson plenty to think about in regards to his potential final team selection.
Their opponents this week aren't short on NRL experience, however, with the likes of Tyler Cornish, Craig Garvey and Jack Murchie named, while former Wests Tigers' Joel Luani and Taane Milne will also play — the latter of whom plays just his second game for Mounties after a suspension earlier in the year.
Mounties will be without their two leading try-scorers this year with Brad Abbey (12 tries) and Mikaele Ravalawa (11 tries) both not named. They do still have their leading points-scorer, though, in Sitiveni Moceidreke, who ranks second in the Intrust Super Premiership competition this year with 118 points.
Mounties do score points per game than any team (27.47), but Western Suburbs will certainly be up for the challenge as they look to control the game. The Magpies average more post contact metres than any team this year (509m per game) and have the second best kicking game in the competition — an area they have a clear advantage in this weekend with Mounties ranking last in both total kicks and kick metres.
Kickoff for Saturday's game is at 1:00pm AEST with live coverage via Channel 9 (check local guides).
INTRUST SUPER PREMIERSHIP ROUND 18
Western Suburbs Magpies vs. Mounties RLFC
Saturday, July 14 at 1:00pm AEST
1. Tuimoala Lolohea
2. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak
3. Braden Robson
4. Toni Tali
5. Lucas Price
6. Tyson Gamble
7. Pita Godinet
8. Cowen Epere
9. Jacob Liddle
10. Patrice Siolo
11. Chris McQueen
12. Luke Garner (capt.)
13. Robbie Rochow
14. Bayley Sironen
15. Oliver Clark
16. Joseph Ratu
17. Harrison O'Toole
18. Watson Heleta
19. Sam McIntyre
Coach: Brett Hodgson