NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS VS MOUNTIES
Round 6, 2014 NSW Cup
Saturday, April 12 Kick-Off: 12.40pm
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Last Time They Met:
Mounties charged to a dominant 46-10 win over the Knights in Round 2 this season at Hunter Stadium. The 36-point loss was the team's first loss at home for a season and a result that cut the playing squad deep.
Newcastle hasn't had much luck against Mounties in recent times, also losing 50-16 in a trial match back in February.
Meanwhile, the spoils between the two sides were shared in 2013. The Knights claimed victory in Round 4 with a 26-20 victory, while Mounties proved too strong in Round 19 on the back of a 28-16 win.
Ross, Mantellato, Williame, P.Mata'utia, C.Mata'utia, Randall, Minto, Tetevano, Waddell, Vaivai, Houston, Siulepa, Hilder (c). Bench: Redman, Horwood, Steele, Elias, Likiliki.
Bond, Aiga, Hawkins, Pangai, Sauiluma, Place, Cornish, O'Donnell, McIlwrick, Learoyd-Lahrs, Foster, Nicholls, Setu. Bench: Cahalane, Horton, Coates, Goldsmith, Priest, Antonelli.
Feeling refreshed after the bye, NSW Cup coach Rick Stone says his charges are pumped at the prospect of taking on the table-topping Mounties at GIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Stone is expecting a tough clash against Mounties, a side that has scored 96 points against his team in their past two clashes.
"It’s definitely a big test and it will take a massive turnaround to reverse the score against Mounties this weekend," Stone says.
"We were poor, but the Mounties to their credit were really good against us that day.
"They showed they’ve got some physicality in the forwards, some good skill in the backs and plenty of points in them.
"So we need to be on our game and defending well to begin with to give ourselves a chance."
The Knights welcome back Matt Minto (hamstring) and Nathan Ross (broken jaw) from injury for Saturday's crucial clash against Mounties.
While Minto and Ross will add plenty to the team, Stone says he was extremely happy with their replacements Honeti Tuha and Danny Kerr.
"I was really pleased with Honeti and Danny in the first three or four weeks," he enthuses.
"Both filled in at two really key positions and at halfback and fullback and did a terrific job.
"So we’ll monitor their progress with Lakes United and no doubt they’ll play a part in the NSW Cup team at some stage this year."
Stone believes a positive mindset will be the key to success on Saturday.
"They’ve been training well early this week and ready for the Mounties," he says.
"We just need to go down there with a better attitude than what we had at Hunter Stadium in Round 2 and we’ll give ourselves a chance."
Matt Minto vs Mitch Cornish
After impressing in two NRL matches from fullback, Minto returns to the NSW Cup ranks to play halfback against Mounties on Saturday.
The Rockhampton-born playmaker starred in the team's opening round win over Penrith and will provide plenty of spark in attack.
"Matty had a slight hamstring strain, but is back for us which should give us a little bit of guidance, composure and a decent kicking game," he Stone.
"So he brings plenty to the table for the NSW Cup team."
Minto will be kept on his toes by Cornish, a 20-year-old who has risen through the ranks at the Raiders and is looking to push his NRL claims after captaining the club's NYC team last year.
Nathan Ross vs Joe Bond
Ross lines up for the Knights in his first match since breaking his jaw against Mounties in the team's final trial back in late February.
The former Kurri Kurri Bulldogs flyer will add plenty of strike at the back for the Knights, which they'll need in bucket loads to beat Mounties on home turf.
Bond is a fullback with a heap of ability, so you can expect an entertaining battle between those two key No.1's.
Zane Tetevano vs Tom Learoyd-Lahrs
Tetevano has been one of the Knights' strongest performers this season with his strong charges and brutal defence.
The New Zealand-born bookend lines up opposite a bloke with plenty of NRL experience in Learoyd-Lahrs.
This should be an intriguing battle between two props who only know one gear - flat out. Bring it on.
Player to watch:
Mata'utia had a tough day the last time the Knights played Mounties back in Round 2. The comprehensive 46-10 loss was made even harder when his opposite number Sami Sauiluma scoring four tries.
Chanel is a quality player, which he has proven this season, so you can expect him to be fired up for a strong performance against Mounties on Saturday afternoon.
Where it will be won:
Mounties possess one of the most potent teams in the NSW Cup competition with their unique blend of powerful forwards and speedy outside backs.
The Knights must start well and set a precedent early on in defence to be any chance of winning.
If they can build some momentum on the back of a slick start, then their confidence will rise and they can cause an upset.
The return of Matt Minto at halfback and Nathan Ross at fullback will also significantly boost the team's chances of winning.