Newcastle Knights v Newtown Jets
Round 25, NSW Cup
Date: Saturday August 30
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Last time they met:
The last time the two teams played was in Round 14 when the Newcastle Knights managed to hold off a fast finishing Newtown Jets 28-26 at Henson Park, courtesy of a two-try outing from winger Josh Mantellato.
The game was pivotal for the Knights snapping a six game losing streak and setting the foundations for two big wins in the following rounds.
1. Nathan Ross, 22. Josh Mantellato, 3. Pat Mata’utia, 25. James Elias, 5. Brayden Wiliame, 6. Matt Minto, 7. Michael Dobson, 8. Sam Mataora, 9. Chad Redman, 10. Pat Vaivai, 11. Clint Newton, 12. Tyler Randell, 13. Matt Hilder (c). Interchange: 14. Honeti Tuha, 15. Brenton Horwood, 16. Michael Steele, 17. Noel Underwood, 18. Toka Likiliki.
1. Nathan Stapleton, 2. Brett Lane, 3. Junior Vaivai, 4. Matt Evans, 5. Jonathon Reuben, 6. Arana Taumata, 7. Scott Dureau, 8. Kane Evans, 9. Kurt Kara (c), 10. Ray Moujalli, 11. Rhyse Martin, 12. Jack Siejka, 13. Remi Casty. Interchange: 14. Brad Barrett, 15. David Harris, 16. Josh Davis, 17. Saulala Houma, 20. Andrew Pearn, 21. Ryan Verlinden.
Coach Rick Stone labels the Newtown Jets a formidable football team, even more so when hungry to make the top eight.
“I think they’ll be a pretty desperate side because if they win they’ll will make the eight and if they lose they won’t,” he said.
Stone identifies halfback Scott Dureau, a former Knight and Catalans Dragon, as a threat describing him as the fulcrum of Newtown’s attack the past couple of weeks.
“He controls their game with good kicking and passing game," Stone added.
“He’s generally in the middle of most things that happen for Newtown.
"They have a big pack and have strong and quick outside backs."
However, the Knights are set to benefit from a counterattack from fullback Nathan Ross after his incredible four-try effort in last week’s 42-18 victory over Manly.
“He brings plenty of energy to our and team and obviously he’s fast and puts himself in position because he’s fairly fit as well,” Stone said.
“He gives himself a chance and there’s no doubt our team’s a better team when he’s playing in fullback.
“Having Rossy back there gives everyone a bit of confidence.”
With Timana Tahu playing in NRL this weekend, James Elias slots into the centres.
“James has been a great Mr Fix-It right across the park in NSW Cup this year,” Stone praised.
“He’s played second row, lock and centre at different times.
“He played left centre for Timana last week and did a really good job, so he’ll get some confidence out of that.”
Where it will be won:
"Defensively, they have a big pack and we need to manage that,” Stone said.
After the Knights strong 42-18 win over Manly on Saturday, he warns it’s not an occasion for the players to get ahead of themselves.
“We will make sure the boys are focussed on this week’s opposition," Stone added.
“Controlling the footy is important in every game, if we can do that then we’ll give ourselves a chance again.
“If we can win this game it will guarantee us a two or three spot finish, which will give us a second chance in the final series, that’s pretty important I think.”
All three grades are in action this Saturday at Hunter Stadium, gates open at 10.30am with NYC kicking off at 10.40am before NSW Cup at 12.40pm.
“The boys enjoy playing at the stadium,” Stone said.
“We’re used to that timeslot and don’t have to travel too far.
“The advantage should be with us and we need to show that.”
The Knights make the finals regardless of results this weekend. Penrith have the minor premiership won, sitting on 42 points with one round to go while Wentworthville are in second on 34 points. The Knights are on 32 points and could finish as high as second with a win this weekend, pending other favourable results.