SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Round 21, 2014 NYC Premiership
Date: Saturday, August 2
Venue: South Sydney Oval, Redfern
Last Time They Met:
The last time the teams met was in Round 12 of the 2013 season when the Knights travelled to Bunnies' territory to record a 30-22 victory.
Jacob Gagai, Josh Birch, Bradie Smith, Chance Peni, Braden Robson, Brock Lamb, Sam Keenan, Tuiala Togitasi, Danny Levi (c), Luke Yates, Harry Pondekas, Joseph Tapine, Joseph Boyce Interchange, James De Saxe, Pride Petterson-Robati, Tama Koopu, Marvin Tauhinu.
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Jordie Hedges, Tom Hughes, Tevita Cottrell, John Olive, Sam Manuleleua, Devon Makoare-Boyce, Brad Wall, PJ Los’e, Cameron McInnes, Eden Syme, Tulsa Saumamao, Jack Gosiewski, Cheyne Whitelaw Interchange: Brock Gray, Wallace Tangiiti, Zane Musgrove, Clayton Williams, Haimona Hiroti.
The Newcastle Knights NYC side has retained its number one position despite last round’s loss and looks to face Rabbitohs sitting at equal 6th place on the table.
The team is in a similar position to last round with Jaelen Feeney, Jah Pakau, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and James Taylor again expected to sit out due to injuries.
“That’s four front liners for us that won’t be there so we are a little bit under done, but in saying that, we are a better side than what we displayed in the second half of the game against the Roosters,” NYC team manager, Craig Smith said.
The Rabbitohs pose a threat in their hooker Cameron McInnes, who has played a number of NRL games this season and is back competing in Holden Cup.
“We’ve simplified everything for our boys this week and just gone back to the basics," Smith added.
“We just want our boys to compete for the 80 minutes again, it’s what we’ve been doing all year.”
Despite the loss last week, Smith is adamant that it’s not time to push the panic button yet.
“We’re still on top of the table," he explains.
“As sides are preparing to play us, they’re preparing to play the best side in the comp, so they’re coming to get us.
“We need to have the mentality that we need to defend as the best side in the comp."
The Knights are in a healthy position with five rounds to go leading into the semis at which time; the team expects to be back at full strength with all its currently injured players back on the paddock.
NYC debutant Brock Lamb, who played with the Knights SG Ball in 2013 and has recently gained selection in the Australian Schoolboys tour, features in the starting line-up for Holden Cup.
“He’s a quality young man,” Smith praised.
“He’s one of those players when he trains, he trains to the best of his ability.
“He seems to have time on his side when he has the ball in his hands and that’s what you want in the halves.
“He played 15 minutes last weekend and he set up a try, but the thing that most impressed me was his ability to communicate with those around him that he doesn’t know that well yet.
“I expect him to be better than he was last week and the fact that he’s starting, he’s looking at 80 minutes as a half-back."
That will test him, it is another step, but we wouldn’t be putting him there if we didn’t think he was capable of doing the job for us.
Where the match will be won:
According to Smith, the game will be won and lost in the middle this weekend.
“It will be won where it was lost for us last weekend,” he warned.
The Knights are focused on taking it back to the basics with three men in a tackle to slow their opponents down.
“All we need to do is complete our ball and defend like it means something to us," Smith said.
“Our focus is on the really simple things like tidying up around the middle in that ruck and hooker area and completing the ball and sets to get to the kick to apply pressure on the Rabbitohs.
“The big emphasis will be in making up for what we think was a disappointing loss last week.”
NSW CUP PREVIEW
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v ILLAWARRA CUTTERS
Round 21, 2014 NSW CUP
Date: Sunday, August 3
Venue: Newcastle No.2 Sportsground
Last time they met:
The Knights last run-in with the Illawarra Cutters was in Round 17 when they defeated the team 26-0, a loss still fresh in the teams’ memory.
Although the scoreless defeat ended a three-match winning sequence for the Knights, the team was quick to move on from event by recording two wins in-between the bye.
Round 17 was new recruit Sam Mataora’s maiden match for the Club.
Brayden Wiliame, Josh Mantellato, Pat Mata’utia, Timana Tahu, Chanel Mata’utia, Matt Minto, Michael Dobson, Toka Likiliki, Chad Redman, Pat Vaivai, Clint Newton, Tyler Randell, Matt Hilder. Interchange Brenton Horwood, Noel Underwood, James Elias, Sam Mataora.
Kyle Eather, Yaw Kiti Glymin, Charly Runciman, Geoff Daniella, Peter Mata'utia, Sam Duggan, Drew Hutchison, Dan Hunt, Craig Garvey, Rory O'Brien, Nathan Green, Chris Lewis, Kyle Stanley, Josh Ailaomai, Willie Mataka, Shannon Wakeman, Charlie Faingaa, Matt Groat.
Coach Rick Stone is looking forward to continuing the momentum the NSW Cup Knights have gathered over the last couple of weeks when the team faces a redemption match against the Illawarra Cutters on Sunday.
“It hurt a bit because we’d won a couple of games before that game and we were up for the game,” Stone reflected on the team’s last run-in.
“We didn’t start well on the day and there wasn’t a lot of scoring in the second half but we were down 14-0 pretty quick and didn’t get back in the game at all really that day,”
“I’d like to think we were a little bit more mature and ready for them this time.
“Our form has been okay, admittedly we haven’t played some of the higher ranked teams, but this will be a good test for us.
“Last week against Wyong, we were a bit scratchy, so we need to play a bit better than what we did there.
“We were coming off the bye then so hopefully we’ve knocked a bit of rust off and will play a little bit better this week."
The game will see Pat Matau’tia face his older brother Peter, who is named in the Illawarra line-up.
“They actually play opposite each other, Pete plays left centre and Pat plays right centre so it will be a bit of a clash,” Stone pointed out.
Stone welcomes the possible return of fullback Nathan Ross after being struck out through injury sustained in the team’s last game against the Cutters.
“Hopefully if he can get back on the field, he will be a bit of a boost for us," he said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how he plays.”
Where it will be won:
The game will be one that hinges on performances up front.
“Their forwards are big strong and athletic, that’s something we usually have to deal with,” Stone said.
“I think their right edge is really dangerous and that hurt us last time so we need to be particularly aware of what they’re going to throw at us.
“It’s all about turning up and being energised and playing with the right type of attitude."
Traditionally we’ve done that at home at No. 2 Sportsground pretty well so I’m looking forward to doing that again.