NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v MOUNTIES
Round 2, 2014 NSW Cup
Sunday March 16
Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Last Time They Met:
Newcastle suffered a 50-16 trial loss against Mounties in late February, while the spoils between the two teams were shared in 2013.
The Knights claimed victory in round four with a 26-20 victory, while Mounties proved too strong in Round 19 on the back of a 28-16 win.
Honeti, Mantellato, Wilame, P.Mata'utia, C.Mata'utia, Randell, Minto, Likiliki, Redman, Vaivai, Sims, Siulepa, Hilder (c) Bench: Elias, Horwood, Tupou, Saunders.
Bond, Hawkins, Tupou, Pangai, Sauiluma, Place, Cornish, O'Donnell, McDonnell, McIllwrick, Nicholls, Foster, Setu, Priest. Bench: Cahalane, Horton, Shackleton, Goldsmith, Coates, Aiga.
Newcastle opened their 2014 campaign in style last Saturday with an impressive 24-14 victory over Penrith.
It was a win built on strong defence, a quality the side will be looking to replicate against Mounties at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
"It was really warm conditions in Penirth, but the boys really toughed it out and especially in defence," Stone says.
"That was a pleasing, because it was probably an area that we weren’t too good at last year in the NSW Cup."
With halfback Matt Minto named on an extended NRL bench, former Burleigh Bear Danny Kerr has been named in the No.7 jumper.
Stone says Kerr has all the skills to succeed at the NSW Cup level.
"Danny has been playing up in the Q Cup with the Burleigh and he has signed with local club Lakes United," he explains.
"He is down here to push his chances in the NSW Cup. He has had a really good pre-season, has a good kicking game, defends well and has got a bit in attack as well.
"So if he gets his chance, I think he’ll go well."
The team will also be boosted by the selection of hooker Adam Clydsdale, who will play his first match for 2014 after injuring his knee in training before the Tamworth trial against Canberra.
Stone is excited by Clydsdale's return and says he'll be a huge addition to the team.
"We’ve got the luxury of having two really good young hookers in Chad Redman and Adam," he enthuses.
"Adam has probably been in front of Chad a little bit, but he has been down with a medical ligament injury since just before the Tamworth trial.
"So we’ll give him a bit of time, probably half a game off the bench and work him into the game that way.
"He is a class player and I think he’ll do well in the grade."
Newcastle lost their most recent clash against Mounties, 50-16 in a trial in Sydney, but Stone believes his side will be ready for redemption on home turf.
"The results have suggested they (Mounties) have got a pretty good team," he says.
"We played them a couple of weeks ago and they put a bit of a score on us, so coming home our guys will be excited and especially with the opportunity to play before the NRL match."
Danny Kerr vs Mitch Cornish
From the Burleigh Bears to the NSW Cup via local club Lakes United, that's the situation facing halfback Danny Kerr as he prepares for his debut match for the Knights.
The skillful utility gets his chance following Matt Minto's promotion to the NRL ranks and Club coaches insist he is ready to make the step up.
It will be a decent first test for Kerr, who takes on exciting young talent Mitch Cornish.
The 20-year-old has risen through the ranks at the Raiders and he is looking to push his claims for an NRL after captaining the club's NYC team last year.
It will be a great match-up for Kerr, but one he is more than capable of handling.
Chanel Mata'utia vs Sami Sauiluma
On the back of his impressive hat-trick in the opening round, Chanel Mata'utia is keen to maintain that high standard against Mounties.
Mata'utia managed to out play the Panthers, but can he repeat that effort against Mounties and stop their flyer Sami Sauiluma in the process?
Well based on Chanel's pre-season and strong early season form, coach Rick Stone certainly thinks his star winger can do it. So brace yourself for one of the most exciting match-ups of the 2014 season.
Chad Redman vs Matt McIlwrick
This battle should be brilliant. In Newcastle's corner is Chad Redman, an old-school style hooker with a big heart and even bigger engine.
On the other side of the field is Canberra's Matt McIIwrick, a No.9 in the mould of Kurt Gidley who loves an up-temp style of play on the back of his strong fitness levels.
It's two players with contrasting styles, but that won't stop it being one hell of a match-up. Enjoy.
How the game will be won:
Mistakes and field possession. Sounds simple, but given these two sides are so evenly matched that's what could decide this game. As good as Newcastle were in the opening round at Penrith, they'll have to keep up their standards for this big home clash against Mounties.
Watch out for plenty of points to be scored in a game that could be decided at the death.