NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v GOLD COAST TITANS
Round 19, 2014 Holden Cup Premiership
Sunday, July 20 Kick-Off: 11.45am
Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Last Time They Met:
The Titans recorded a comfortable 22-10 win over Newcastle in round 16 last season, while the Knights claimed a 28-8 victory in round 7.
Mata'utia, Donovan, Robson, Peni, Mamo, Feeney, Keenan, Taylor, Levi (c), Pakau, Fitzgibbon, Tapine, Boyce. Interchange: De Saxe, Petterson-Robati, Yates, Pondekas.
GOLD COAST TITANS
Hughes (c), Kelly, Hawkes, Broadhurst, Spring, Hazard, Elgey (c), Fifita, Fletcher, Sharp, Hughes, Colman, Clarke. Interchange: Iodice, Morehu, Hudson, Lawton.
It's a big day at Hunter Stadium on Sunday with RiseForAlex Round and Club assistant coach Rick Stone has no doubts our NYC side will be ready for the occasion.
"It think it’s really important when you are playing the first game of the day," Stone reasons.
"You’ve got a bit of responsibility and I have no doubt the young fellas will be thinking the same way."
The junior Knights sit on top of the Holden Cup ladder, but Stone says the side still has plenty of improvement in them.
He pinpoints the team's slow starts to matches as the greatest concern moving forward.
"I suppose the starts have been a little bit of an issue for us this year," he says.
"But when they put it together, they really put it together and win convincingly.
"So no doubt the coach will be having a look at the starts with their energy and attitude.
"So with a big crowd and an early crowd in on Sunday, hopefully that will be good for them to get them going in the first 20 minutes.
"Hopefully they can then knuckle down and show a little bit more patience and composure with the ball."
Braden Robson vs Jaiden Hawkes
From the SG Ball to the NYC and finally an Australian Schoolboys jumper, Robson has enjoyed a stellar season in 2014.
Stone can't speak highly enough of the St Francis Xavier student, who has found a home in the centres in the Club's table-topping 20s outfit.
"Braden is a good story," Stone enthuses.
"He is a young bloke who hasn’t been in our system and received a late call-up to be a part.
"He had a really strong season in the SG Ball playing in the centres.
"He also got a late call-up to the NSW Combined Catholic Side following an injury and then won selection in the Australian Schoolboys side after gaining selection there.
"It’s a good reward for a young bloke who has obviously worked so hard."
Jake Mamo vs Zac Spring
Mamo made a solid return from a back injury against the Sharks last weekend and Stone expects the gifted flyer to improve further in the coming weeks.
"Jake has had a few little issues injury wise in the last couple of weeks and hasn’t played much footy," he says.
"I think he’ll be better for the run and he’ll enjoy the freedom of playing on the wing and giving himself the chance to get his hands on the footy."
Lachlan Fitzgibbon vs Harrison Hughes
The Club's NYC side contains plenty of stars, but it's also a team made up of workers.
And when it comes to doing the hard yards, it's hard to go past wholehearted back-rower Fitzgibbon.
"Lachlan has played plenty of minutes and has been doing his job consistently every week," Stone beams.
"I think that’s a big thing.
"He has got a little bit of improvement still left in him, but his consistency has got a lot better and he is starting to understand and take a leadership role in the team."
Where it will be won:
If the Knights can overcome their slow starts, then they should win this one comfortably on home turf.
The men in red and blue have only lost one match at Hunter Stadium in 2014, so you can expect this trend to continue on Sunday.