NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Round 12, 2014 Holden Cup Premiership
Sunday, June 1 Kick-Off: 11.45pm
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Last Time They Met:
Newcastle recorded an impressive 24-10 victory over the Warriors in Round 11 last season.
Current NRL player Adam Clydsdale scored a try, while NSW Cup star Pat Mata'utia also crossed in the comfortable win.
Mamo, Donovan, Mata'utia, Peni, Birch, Gagai, De Saxe, Taylor, Levi (c), Yates, Tapine, Fitzgibbon, Petterson-Robati. Interchange: Pondekas, King, Pakau, Togiatasi, Smith.
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Abbey, Ulberg, Hukatai, Maumalo, Wesley Tauti, Hingano, Lino, Afoa, Robinson, Lisone, Tuimavave-Gerrard, Love-Henry, Bell. Interchange: Roache, Sipley, Ogden, Samson, Finau, Lisati.
On the back of their first loss for the season, Club assistant coach Rick Stone fully expects Newcastle's NYC side to come out firing against the Warriors on Sunday.
"I think we will be stinging a little bit," Stone says.
"Traditionally it’s always a tough road trip going to New Zealand.
"They’ve been the powerhouse in the NYC since its inception in 2008, so it will be another tough trip.
"But I’m sure they are keen to bounce back and bounce back quickly after their first loss two weeks ago."
The Warriors have traditionally been a handful to contain in the Under-20s competition but Stone insists the Knights are up for the challenge.
He bases this belief on the side's ability to continually overcome any challenge or setback thrown their way.
"They are a big powerful team and you’ve really got to control the footy and the game," he says.
"But our NYC team has done that so far this season.
"They are playing with some confidence and they believe they can win in any circumstance.
"So it’s a good test, but I’m sure the boys will be up for it."
James De Saxe vs Mason Lino
De Saxe comes in at halfback to replace Jaelen Feeney, who is sidelined with a rib injury.
Stone has no doubts the former Melbourne Storm utility will handle the step up in responsibility.
"James will go well," he enthuses.
"Obviously Jaelen is a big loss for the team.
"He has been terrific in the first half of the season.
"James has played hooker and halfback for us in the last couple of years.
"He is a real consistent performer whenever he gets on the field.
"We’ll probably have to look to Jacob Gagai to do a bit more with the footy and take a bit more control with our kicking game."
Jacob Gagai vs Mafoa'aeta Hingano
With Feeney sidelined with his rib injury, Gagai will be forced to take on greater responsibility with the team's kicking game.
The younger brother of first grade star Dane has been strong this season playing at five-eighth and fullback but will now have to take his game to another level.
Lachlan Fitzgibbon vs Matiu Love-Henry
Fitzgibbon has been elevated to the starting side after a number of impressive performances for the Knights and local side South Newcastle.
"Lachlan was outstanding for Souths in their big win over Macquarie," he says.
"He scored three tries and was a real standout."
A number of other players from the NYC team also played in the Newcastle competition last weekend.
Stone believes this exposure to football against more seasoned campaigners can only help the Club's emerging talent.
"It was also great to see Tuiala Togiatasi play great for Lakes against Kurri," he adds.
"It’s great to see some of our younger players get out and play for their local clubs and make a bit of a difference in their local community.
"Brodie Smith and Josh King also played, so it was a good opportunity to get a bit of game time and give a bit back as well."
Where it will be won:
The Warriors are always difficult to beat on home turf but Newcastle has the overall ability and skill to win this one.
In an impressive season to date, the Knights have proven themselves to more than capable on the road.
They've recorded victories in Melbourne, Townsville and Canberra; so winning in New Zealand shouldn't be a problem.
There's no doubting the Warriors will come out hard and with plenty of power but this will be limited as long as the Knights maintain their high standards.