ILLAWARRA CUTTERS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Round 17, 2014 VB NSW Cup
Saturday, July 5 Kick-Off: 2.40pm
Venue: WIN Jubilee Oval, Sydney
Last Time They Met:
Newcastle defeated Illawarra on two occasions last season. The first a close 28-26 victory in round 13 and the second a 30-26 triumph in round 24.
Ross, Mantellato, Wiliame, P.Mata'utia, C.Mata'utia, Randell, Minto, Likiliki, Redman, Vaivai, Tahu, Newton, Horwood. Interchange: Elias, Steele, Underwood, Siulepa, Hartin.
Eather, Glymin, Smith, Daniela, Cranston, Duggan, Hutchison, Wakeman, Johnson, O'Brien, Mataka, Lewis, Stanley. Interchange: Ailaomai, Merritt, Groat, Hind.
Newcastle is full of confidence on the back of three consecutive wins, but coach Rick Stone says his side must go to another level to beat Illawarra in Sydney on Saturday.
The Cutters are currently in fourth position on the ladder and Stone knows his charges will have to lift to get the win away from home.
"Illawarra has a decent sprinkling of first grade players that can play a good brand of footy," Stone says.
"They’ve put together some good scores this year and racked up a lot of points, so they are a dangerous footy team with plenty of attack in them."
The Knights have got their season back on track in recent weeks after losing six consecutive matches mid-year.
"The last couple of weeks have been better," Stone says. "We’ve won three in a row now, which is nice.
"We are starting to get a few troops back and a bit of confidence as well.
"Players like Clint Newton and Timana Tahu coming back into the team makes a bit of a difference.
"It’s the same with the Mata’utia brothers, Pat and Chanel, who provide plenty of thrust and dynamics to our backline.
"So it has balanced it up and our team has taken on a more familiar look about it now.
"That's especially the case in attack at the moment with Nathan Ross being a bit of a link.
"So we can score some points.
"We’ll just need to hang onto the ball and get through our sets to get the win."
Matt Minto vs Drew Hutchinson
Coach Stone believes Minto has excelled in the absence of injured five-eighth Michael Dobson in the past fortnight.
"Matty has taken a more senior role in the halves with Tyler Randell and done a really good job," he enthuses.
"I expect him to continue that form and even take more control."
Chad Redman vs Joel Johnson
Redman is normally accustomed to a bench position, but stepped up to the starting side last week and excelled according to Stone.
"Chad was great for us last weekend against Wentworthville," he says.
"He is a great competitor and every week he competes really hard. He has got a bit frustrated with the game time, so he really enjoyed playing 80 minutes and sinking his teeth into a game.
"He laid on a couple of nice tries and tackled really strongly, especially on big Fuifui Moimoi who takes a bit of stopping.
"But Chad did a really good job on him."
Pat Vaivai vs Rory O'Brien
Stone says Vaivai has been a shining light for his side this season.
"Pat has been very consistent this year," he says.
"He is our premier front-rower now, as far as minutes played and metres carried go.
"He has improved his defence as well and his work-rate in general has been better.
"He is playing more time and his consistency is great. Every week we challenge him to be better and every week he keeps rising to that challenge."
Where it will be won:
Newcastle has rediscovered their mojo in attack and defence, so they'll head into this clash against Illawarra with plenty of belief.
Speak with coach Stone and they'll need all of that confidence to get the two competition points against the Cutters.
Ian Millward's men have proven to be a formidable force this season on the back of their strong forwards and slick backs.
Throw in the fact they'll be tough to beat on home turf and the Knights will have to be at their best to win.
Watch for prop Pat Vaivai to take on the Cutters in the opening exchanges, while the likes of Nathan Ross and Matt Minto put on the finishing touches in attack.