NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v CRONULLA SHARKS
Round 4, 2014 NSW Cup
Sunday, March 30 Kick-Off 12.45pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Last Time They Met:
Newcastle recorded a 16-8 victory over Cronulla in round 22 last season, while the Sharks proved too strong in round 7 with a commanding 50-16 win.
Tuha, Mantellato, Wiliame, P.Mata’utia, C.Mata’utia, Randell, Kerr, Likiliki, Redman, Vaivai, Houston, Tetevano, Hilder (c). Bench: Waddell, Horwood, Steele, Siulepa, Elias.
Mann, Robinson, O’Neill, Gagan, Portlock, Politoni, Manumalealii, Robinson, Lichaa, Weston, Moors, Roqica, Griffin. Bench: Sorensen, Morris, Fifita, Masima.
On the back of last weekend's big win over North Sydney, coach Rick Stone says confidence is high heading into Sunday's clash against Cronulla.
"That was probably our best second half for the year," Stone says in reference to the team's 50-22 triumph over the Bears.
"We controlled the game well, controlled the ball and tackled strongly.
"We scored some good tries on top of that, so there is some confidence coming out of that."
Stone knows his side face a step up in class against the defending NSW Cup champions in Cronulla, but is confident they can get the job done at home.
The Sharks are currently ahead of the Knights by one position on the ladder due to for-and-against, so you can expect Sunday's match to reflect that closeness.
"They are a strong side," Stone says about the Sharks.
"I've seen a few stars in their team as far as NRL experience goes. We've just got to try and build on what we did in the second half last week.
"If we can continue down that vein, we'll get a nice competitive game for sure. The Sharks traditionally and last year in particular were really consistent both home and away.
"They were always hard to beat, so it will be a good test for us."
The last time Newcastle played at Hunter Stadium back in round 2, they suffered a comprehensive loss against Mounties.
It was the team's first loss at home in a season and Stone admits the players are keen to make amends for that disappointing result.
"That's definitely a priority playing at home," he says.
"You'd like to think that your effort and your consistency is a bit better than what we showed in round two.
"So that will be one of our goals going into this week.
"We've just got to be consistent, especially with our defence in the middle to start with. If we can do that, then we'll give ourselves a chance."
Chad Redman vs Michael Lichaa
This battle should go a long way to deciding the outcome of this game.
Redman is an honest player with a strong work ethic and he'll need all of those qualities to out perform Lichaa, one of the most promising young players in the game.
Chanel Mata'utia vs Josh Portlock
Mata'utia has been of the team's best performers to start the season. From scoring tries through to his strong defence, Chanel is a major reason why Newcastle are currently in the competition's top five.
Cronulla's Portlock is a player with a heap of ability, so brace yourself for an entertaining battle between two quality wingers.
Player to watch:
Coach Stone was highly impressed with Tetevano's return from a fractured hand against Norths last weekend and expects more improvement from the big bookend in the coming weeks.
"Zane played 60 minutes last week and was pretty strong," Stone says.
"He was good in attack and defence. It was a real good start for him and he'll only get better this week."
Where it will be won:
Newcastle must contain Cronulla's big men to get the win. The Sharks have a potent pack led by the likes of Dayne Weston, Tim Robinson and Junior Moors and you can't afford to let them get on top up front.
It will be Toka Likiliki, Pat Vaivai and Zane Tetevano's job to ensure the Knights dominate the ruck and keep Cronulla's props in check.
If they can do that, then they are more than capable of winning this one at home.