NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS VS WENTWORTHVILLE MAGPIES
Round 8b, 2014 NSW Cup
Sunday, May 4 Kick-Off: 3pm
Venue: Ringrose Park, Sydney
Last Time They Met:
Newcastle recorded a hard fought 20-14 victory over Wentworthville in Round 12 last season, while the Magpies claimed the Round 5 fixture 36-30.
Ross, Mantellato, Wiliame, P.Mata'utia, C.Mata'utia, Randell, Dobson, Horwood, Waddell, Vaivai, Elias, Siulepa, Hilder (c). Bench: Redman, Hartin, Steele, Tupou.
Hunt, Toutai, Morgan, Pewhairaingi, Faraimo, Foran, Kelly, Terepo, McKinnon, Allgood, Ualesi, Ma'afu, Lasalo. Bench: Howard, Jones, Maliota, Alvaro.
Coach Rick Stone says his side are buzzing with excitement heading into Sunday's top of the table clash against Wentworthville.
The Knights have discovered some consistency in recent weeks with big wins over Wyong and Canterbury-Bankstown and Stone can't wait to take on a Magpies side currently in second position on the table.
"It's a pretty important match," Stone says.
"They (Wentworthville) are going pretty well. They beat Mounties pretty convincingly a couple of weeks ago and Mounties have beaten us convincingly twice this year.
"The injury toll and our list is starting to deplete a little bit, but I'm really happy with the side so far.
"Obviously there has been a couple of disappointing results, but overall the effort and the camaraderie there is really good.
"Admittingly the Bulldogs weren't the best team last week, but you can only win."
Stone has been particularly happy with his side's application in defence, a facet of their game that must continue to beat Wentworthville on their home turf.
"Our defence is starting to get there," he says.
"So if we can defend as well as we did last week and against Wyong the week before we'll give ourselves a chance in most games."
Pat Vaivai vs Mitch Allgood
Stone has been highly impressed with Vaivai this season, a bloke who has more than proven his worth up front in the absence of a number of experienced campaigners.
"I want to give a rap to Pat," he says.
"He has had to take on a bit of a senior role in the front-row with Dave Fa'ologo, Adam Cutherbertson and Korbin Sims have all gone up to the NRL.
"So we've lost a fair bit of strength and strike power in that position, but Pat was outstanding for us last week.
"It was probably the best game he has played."
Michael Dobson vs Luke Kelly
Dobson is finding his feet in the NSW Cup ranks after starting the year in the NRL. The former Canberra Raider has provided plenty of attacking flair and organisational skills and it's shown in the team's performances in recent weeks.
This form will need to continue against Wentworthville No.7 Luke Kelly, a guy who has had plenty of top grade experience at Parramatta.
If Dobson can fire though, it will help the Knights get on top and ultimately win the football match.
Chanel Mata'utia vs Bureta Faraimo
When it comes to consistent form, Chanel Mata'uita has been a standout for the Knights in the opening rounds.
Stone has been very happy with his impact out wide, so much so he believes a call-up to the NRL ranks isn't far away for the classy outside back.
"Chanel is improving all time and he is knocking right on the door for a first grade opportunity sometime this year I'd suggest," he says.
"So we've got a good balance in the side at the moment."
Where it will be won:
History has shown that these two teams are extremely evenly matched. The last two clashes between Newcastle and Wentworthville have been decided by just six points, so expect this trend to continue again on Sunday.
The Knights have been in strong form in recent weeks though and are more than capable of continuing that form against the Magpies.
Look to forwards like Pat Vaivai to set a platform up front and half Michael Dobson to lay on the passes for speedy outside backs Chanel and Pat Mata'utia and fullback Nathan Ross.
If Newcastle can also defend well, then they have enough strike to get the job done in attack and remain at the top of the competition table.
Kids eat free and Mother's Day deal
Kids eat free when the Knights take on the Penrith Panthers at Hunter Stadium on Sunday, May 11. As a special Mother's Day treat, when people purchase a Family General Admission ticket, they'll receive a free upgrade to reserved seating. Click here to purchase tickets now.