SYDNEY ROOSTERS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Round 14, 2014 Holden Cup Premiership
Saturday, June 14
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Last Time They Met:
The Roosters cruised to a comfortable 44-18 victory over the Knights in Round 20 last season.
Donovan, Lam, Smith, Peni, Birch, Gagai, Feeney, Togitasi, Levi (c), Yates, Fitzgibbon, Pondekas, Boyd. Interchange: De Saxe, Petterson-Robati, Taylor, Pakau, King.
Currie, Ellis, Elliott, Milne, Goodsell, Edwards, Cornish, Uele, Thomas (c), Dokonivalu, Lyons, Mariner, Lewis. Interchange: Vanderhardt, Mamary, Leuluai, Demetriou. Rogers, Walpole.
On the back of three consecutive defeats, Saturday's clash against the fifth-placed Roosters is a huge match for the Knights' NYC side.
Club assistant coach Rick Stone says the team has the ability to regain form against the Chooks, but must improve their recent slow starts to get the competition points.
"It’s an important clash," Stone says.
"The Roosters have been going OK as well.
"Our blokes have probably dipped a little bit in the last few weeks and haven’t started their games with the right sort of energy or intensity.
"That’s something that the coaching staff will look to rectify this week and see if they can get out to a start and go toe-to-toe with the opposition for the first 20 minutes."
The Knights will be without star trio Sione Mata'utia (NSW Under 18s), Joe Tapine (NRL) and Jake Mamo (NRL) for Saturday's match-up with the Roosters.
As much as the NYC side will miss the talented threesome, Stone has no doubts the men in red and blue can battle on in their absence.
"They are probably three of the biggest stars in the NYC team, so the boys will have to step up in their absence.
"Bradie Smith has played a couple of positions for us this year, like second-row, lock and wing and he has been a capable replacement."
Jaelen Feeney vs Tyler Cornish
Feeney was solid for the Knights in his return match from a rib injury against the Tigers last Sunday.
In saying that, Stone believes the former Bulldogs playmaker will need to go to another level for his clash with the Roosters and their star No.7 Tyler Cornish.
"Jaelen was probably feeling his way a little bit in his first game back," Stone says.
"It’s always pretty tentative your first game back from a rib injury, so hopefully Jaelen will be a bit better.
"He and Jacob had some nice touches. He really does some clever things, but he has probably just got to get himself into the game a bit more consistently."
Chance Peni vs Taane Milne
When it comes to underrated players in the Knights' NYC squad, centre Chance Peni is right up there.
The local Wests Newcastle junior is strong in defence, whilst he is equally potent in attack.
Stone says he can't wait to see Peni run around again this weekend, especially against a formidable Tri-colours outfit.
"I thought Chance had a real good game as far as running the footy goes last week," he says.
"He is strong and hard to pull down.
"Defensively he has still got a bit more consistency to show, but he is definitely improving his game.
"He and Bradie have got a big job and the team has got a big job lifting in the absence of their three big stars."
Tuiala Togitasi vs Braden Uele
Big Tuiala Togitasi faces a huge test against his former club on Saturday.
The Roosters have been flying in recent weeks, but Togitasi is more than capable of containing them according to Stone.
"It’s a decent job for Togiatasi, who is a former Rooster and he gets a chance to start against his old club," he says.
"He’ll be looking forward to do that with Luke Yates and our captain Danny Levi.
"The pack has got a big job, because the Roosters generally come with plenty of power, pace and skill in all their grades.
"They’ve got a big job at the start of the game, but I’m sure they’ll be up for it."
Where it will be won:
The Roosters are always hard to beat, especially at home, so it's of vital importance that the Knights start well.
If the men in red and blue can control field possession in the opening exchanges, it will go a long way to helping them get the two competition points.
For this to happen, the Knights need their big men up front to step up and lay a strong foundation.
If the likes of Togiatasi, Yates and Taylor can fire, then it will allow outside backs Donovan, Birch and Feeney plenty of space to pile on the points.