Saturday, October 7th – Neptune Oval – 3pm Kick Off
- Nepean Ducks (1-1-1) vs. Sydney University Lions (3-1)
- (Last Season DNP)
The Ducks haven’t faced the Lions in over a year (due to a washout last season) and surprisingly, this is a battle between 2nd and 4th place! That’s something I never thought I’d hear when writing about both these teams. But this goes to show how much the league and all the teams are improving across the board; the league is super close this year. The Ducks have had 2 weeks off due to their team bye and a league bye last weekend so they will come into this one rested and ready to fight. The emergence of QB Emil Johannsen has greatly improved the Ducks performances and even though their record doesn’t show it, they are going to be contenders this year. Meanwhile, the Lions are coming off their first defeat in 3 seasons at the hands of the Pirates, so they will want to come into this one hungry and ready to show the league that they aren’t down and out yet.
Choc’s Prediction: SYD by 7
Saturday, October 7th – Neptune Oval – 6pm Kick Off
- UTS Gators (4-0) vs. Newcastle Kings (1-1-2)
- (Last Season DNP)
Another matchup between teams that haven’t played each other since the 2015 season, sees the undefeated Gators come up against the Kings. Both teams have a similar play style; the Kings use their giant O Line to help RB Hayden Yates pound the turf and get big yards on the ground, while the Gators QB Jordan Rowland also utilises his ground game but rolls out of the pocket to pick up yards. Defensively, this one should be a good matchup as both the Gators and Kings have great LBs and their defensive lines are able to contain the run as well. If the Gators can pull out a W in this one, they will cement their place at the top of the ladder and they will face UNSW next week with a 5-0 record.
Choc’s Prediction: UTS by 7
Saturday, October 7th – Zeims Park – 3pm Kick Off
- Wollongong Mustangs (1-1-1) vs. UNSW Raiders (1-3)
- (Last Season: WOL 20 – 47 RAI)
This one should be an interesting matchup for a few reasons. First, these two teams aren’t strangers to each other as they faced each other during the preseason for a friendly scrimmage. Also, last time they faced each other, the Raiders were near the top of the table whilst the Mustangs were just above the Kings at the bottom; how times have changed. The Raiders now sit at the bottom of the ladder, having lost 3 of the 4 games they’ve played whilst the Mustangs are tied with the Sharks, Ducks and Kings for 4th place. With the return of Raiders QB Lukas Vojnar from suspension, the UNSW outfit will add another weapon back to their offensive arsenal which seems to be depleted in the last few weeks. If Wollongong turn up ready to go, they might surprise the Raiders but I think I’m going to stick with history on this one and pick the Green Machine to take this one.
Choc’s Prediction: RAI by 7
Saturday, October 7th – Zeims Park – 6pm Kick Off
- Sutherland Seahawks (1-2) vs. West Sydney Pirates (3-0)
- (Last Season SEA 20 – 44 WST)
In the final game on Saturday at Wollongong, the Seahawks will do battle with the Pirates. Both teams are coming off good wins over tough opponents but I think Pirates had the bigger challenge last week, taking on the defending champions Sydney Uni. The return of star receiver Kristian Gacuma, along with the offensive weapons of RB Marlou Tacugue and WR Manzil Stone have given the Pirates enough tools to dismantle the injury depleted D of Sydney Uni. They are becoming the juggernaut of last season and I don’t see anyone being able to stop them. The Hawks beat the Predators last week in a tough matchup that showed their resilience. They are a young team that has some development left in them so this will be a good test of their true skill, determination and heart against what could be the 2017 GNSW Champions (f they continue the way they’re going). Stick with what you know in this one, back the Pirates.
Choc’s Prediction: WST by 10
Saturday, October 7th – Forestville Park – 3pm Kick Off
- North Sydney Rebels (1-3) vs. Central Coast Sharks (1-1-2)
- (Last Season: REB 35 – 14 CCS)
I want to say it was a surprise win for the Rebels last week but I called the upset, so I don’t think it was surprising at all. The North Sydney lads came out in a tough matchup and held the Raiders to just 3 points, a great defensive effort. Meanwhile the Sharks fell just short of the victory over the undefeated UTS. The score line didn’t reflect how close that game really was and the Sharks will be disappointed to come away with the L in that one. The Rebels will need to contain the Sharks dual threat QB Jordan Nikora, particularly in his run game. And with the loss of LB Daniel Pearson to personal commitments, this will be a good test for the Rebels D to fill the gap that DP has left (I’m hearing rumours there may be a return of a Stephen Armstrong from injury :P). Whether the ladder shows it or not, these are two very evenly matched teams so this will be a great matchup for the Rebels at home.
Choc’s Prediction: too close to call
On a side note, this Saturday at Forestville is Ladies Day. There will be 2 Ladies games (UNSW vs North Sydney & Northwestern vs ACT) followed by the Sharks vs the Rebels. There will be a BBQ, bake sale and raffle tickets sold on the day, as well as helmet decals with all proceeds going to the McGrath Foundation. It should be a great day of football in North Sydney so if you get a chance, check it out and donate to a great cause!
**Northwestern Predators have the Bye this week
*Photo Credit: Alfr3d Wong Photography