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By NSW Waratahs Media unit
Ahead of the fifteenth round of competition, we take a look at the key match ups from around the grounds as the top six starts to take some shape.
Manly (1) v Southern Districts (4) – Manly Oval, 3:10pm
The side from Southern Districts will make their way to the Northern Beaches backed with the confidence of five-straight wins.
The Marlins drew to Sydney University 30-30 last weekend, and are eager to continue their dominance in the Shute Shield as the top six finalists begin to hit their strides.
James Hilterbrand will have his hands full as he prepares to take down the rampaging Brandon Paenga-Amosa in his opposite number.
The Rebels will be guided by Dewet Roos and Rohan Saifoloi in the halves, who have been instrumental to the team’s success in the past few matches. They come up against a very handy combination in Tim Donlan and Sam Lane who are also paramount to Manly’s momentum this season.
Souths will need to get a win this week to stay well within finals contention given there is six competition points between 6th place and 3rd.
REST OF THE ROUND
Penrith (12) v West Harbour (9) – Nepean Rugby Park, 3:00pm
The Emus have shown that they have the capability to score some good tries, with winger Niko Dalivusa bagging a double last weekend to top off a season jam-packed full of tries.
Giant-killers West Harbour sit 10 competition points off 6th seeded Northern Suburbs, which means a few things will need to go their way to hop, skip and jump their way into the 2017 finals.
Northern Suburbs (6) v Gordon (8) – North Sydney Oval, 3:00pm
The Shoremen have now lost three on the fly and are looking to make a triumphant return home to North Sydney Oval in round 15. Norths still sit in the top 6, however need to turn it up in order to keep their finals dreams alive.
Gordon scored a try-of-the-week contender last weekend in their loss to West Harbour, which proves how dangerous they truly are when it comes to attack. The Stags will be looking to their finisher in Paula Balekana to be their key to victory as they attempt to muscle their way up the ladder.
Eastwood (5) v Eastern Suburbs (10) – TG Milner Field, 3:00pm
After going down to Randwick last weekend at home, the Woodies will be looking to make amends when they host the tenth-seeded Beasties back at TG Milner.
Easts will be without their pivot in Mack Mason who has been called up for provincial duties with the NSW Waratahs.
Both sides are hurting after a few consecutive losses and will be hungry to gain some traction in the countdown to finals.
Warringah (2) v Sydney University (7) – Pittwater Rugby Park, 3:00pm
The Rats will seek to reassert their strength in the competition when they take on the talented Sydney University side in their Pittwater fortress. Armed with the attacking weapons of Dave Feltscheer, Tyson Davis and Sailosi Tagicakibau, the Northern Beaches outfit are dangerous when they get enough space.
Sydney Uni have proven that they are almost worthy of the top 6 after producing several eye-catching performances so far in 2017. However, it has been quite a mixed bag as they have only walked away with 7 wins.
Warringah are now four wins in a row as they front up to the Students.
Randwick (3) v Parramatta (11) – Coogee Oval, 3:00pm
The Wicks have begun to prove that they are the team to beat as they have hit some good form in the last month of play. Through the physicality of their backrow in Sam Croke, Jack Johnson and Jack Hayson, the Galloping Greens are well armed – especially when they link up with halves pairing Mitch Short and Andrew Deegan.
Parramatta put up a win last week against Penrith and will be down an enforcer in prop David Lolohea, who is over in Perth preparing to face the Western Force.
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The NSW Waratah’s will open their 2018 Super Rugby season with a home match against the Stormers at Allianz Stadium on the 24th of February.
SANZAAR has released the Super Rugby draw for 2018 with the Waratahs scheduled to play eight games at home.