Northern Suburbs v Newcastle Round 5 Preview
Following the strong win over Manly in Round 3, the time for rest and recuperation during the Round 4 bye now over. It's back to business heading back to Bon Andrews Oval for this Round 5 clash with the Newcastle Hunter Wildfires.
In the second of two fixtures to be played at the oval named after the club's highest capped player. Bon Andrews Oval was a terrific venue for the Round 2 match against Penrith and provides another great opportunity to continue to play a number of home games in the North Sydney community.
With the week off in Round 4, it was a natural slide down the ladder to 5th position following strong wins to Sydney University, Randwick, Gordon and Southern Districts, who all remain unbeaten. Meanwhile, our Round 5 opponents began their climb up the ladder with an impressive last-minute effort to snatch a draw at Manly Oval.
The week's rest has done the forwards the world of good, returning unchanged from Round 3. The forward pack has got through a mountain of work in the opening rounds, and former Newcastle resident and Norths Captain Nick Palmer will be looking to lead the way again this weekend.
While the backline sees its first change to the starting line up this week. Kepu Lokotui the electric winger who scored a magnificent first-half try against Manly has succumbed to a hamstring issue likely to sideline him for a number of weeks. Kepu is replaced by Tommy Gilbert who made is his debut from the bench in Round 1 and comes in for his first start this week.
Tommy is another who has come through the Norths Colts program (2016) having notched over 50 Colts games and while also being capped for the Philippine Volcanoes.
In's: Tommy Gilbert
Out: Kepu Lokotui (Hamstring)
In other games around the grounds, Gordon were impressive last round winners and should be too strong for Manly in an important match for both teams. Gordon looking to stake their claim for top spot, while 7th placed Manly will need to stay in touch with the top 6.
Whilst Two Blues put it to Souths for a long time in Round 4, I can't see them getting past Eastwood who are last round winners, with 3 wins from 4 to sit 6th.
Penrith will upset a team or two this season, but I can't see it being Randwick this week at Coogee Oval with a backline bolstered by Aussie 7's speed and former catchpole medallist David Horwitz leading them around.
With Rats comprehensively beaten last week, a lot of eyes will be on them to see if they can bounce back against a West Harbour team looking for their maiden win of 2020. Perhaps one which could go either way.
In the 7Two match of the round, either Sydney University or Souths will relinquish their unbeaten record in a match which will shake up the ladder nearing the halfway point.