It’s been a tale of two halves for the Wyong Roos and the Western Suburbs Magpies, just with polar opposite timings.
The Magpies started the year off brilliantly; blowing away most teams that came near them led by Josh Drinkwater who was in red-hot form. A Super League contract in late April, and eventually a Challenge Cup victory saw Drinkwater pack his bags, and with his departure went the Magpies utter dominance for some time. They have, however, had a successful season thus far, finishing in fifth position.
Wyong, on the other hand, struggled to start the season, winning just two games in the first 10 rounds with three of these margins being by one point and another being a draw. They then only lost one game until Round 20, but are currently on a three game losing streak.
In somewhat ridiculous circumstances, these two teams have faced off twice this year, and both occasions have resulted in one-point victories. In Round 3, a Mitch Cornish field goal sunk the Magpies, while Tyson Gamble had the honour of returning serve two weeks ago.
Alike the Warriors and Mounties, zero points separate the two teams this year, a fitting history coming into this do-or-die clash.
Both sides have had a mainstay in their halves pairing all year, making Cornish and Gamble – the field goal kickers – the key match-up for this match. They actually have five field goals between them this year, which could make things very interesting should the scores be locked up at the later stages.
Gamble (13) just leads Cornish (12) in try assists, which Cornish has significantly more line-break assists. They are both the primary kickers in their respective teams, so whichever half takes control of the game earlier could give their team an early advantage.
The back-rows in each team are very strong, highlighting another mouth-watering battle in this game.
For Wests, Chris McQueen is a former Origin player, Luke Garner recently debuted for the Wests Tigers and has been in red-hot form, while their captain is young-gun Patrice Siolo. Sydney Roosters fans have taken a liking to Wyong lock Poasa Faamausili after he made his NRL debut this year, while Brock Gray and Reuben Porter have been strong for the Roos all year.
The danger player for this game is no doubt Luke Sharpe from the Wyong Roos. He has so much speed, acceleration and lateral movement, has scored seven tries this year and has set up six. He also has eight line-break assists and is coming fifth in the competition for tackle breaks, which is quite remarkable given his small stature.
It’s hard to split these teams, and if regular season matches are anything to go by, this match promises to be a thriller.