SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 7 - ROUND 26 OLD BOYS DAY
Newcastle Knights v St George Illawarra Dragons
Gates open: 11.30am
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Tickets: CLICK HERE
Last time they met:
The last Knights v Dragons match in NYC was in Round 13 of the 2013 competition when the Knights won 24-10 at Hunter Stadium.
Current NYC squad members Jake Mamo, Joseph Tapine, Joseph Boyce and Jah Pakau played in the match.
1. Jake Mamo, 2. Bryce Donovan, 3. Braden Robson, 4. Chance Peni, 5. Josh Birch, 6. Brock Lamb, 7. Jaelen Feeney, 8. Jah Pakau, 9. Danny Levi (c), 10. Luke Yates, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Joseph Tapine, 13. Joseph Boyce. Interchange, 14. James, De Saxe, 15. Pride Petterson-Robati, 16. Tuiala Togitasi, 17. James Taylor.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA
1. Matt Dufty, 2. Sitiveni Moceidreke, 3. Euan Aitken, 4. Brent Anderson, 5. Leigh Higgens, 6. Shannon Crook, 7. Adam Clune, 8. Addin Fonua-Blake, 9. Hayden McCrae, 10. Vincent Stowers, 11. Wes Lolo, 12. Jack Bird, 13. Andrew McCarthy. Interchange: 14. Jay Gallagher, 15. Thomas Freebairn, 16. Jack Kavanagh, 17. Jacob Host.
It's set to be one of the most highly anticipated games of the Under 20s season, when the NYC Knights have the opportunity to secure the minor premiership with a win over the second-placed Dragons at Hunter Stadium this Sunday.
The Knights are two points clear on top of the ladder so a win secures the minor premiership however the Dragons are in second, and if they win by more than 38-points, they can snatch the minor premiership.
While the under 20 Knights are still buzzing after last weekend’s hard fought 34-30 victory over a menacing Parramatta Eels, their focus is on Sunday’s challenge against the Dragons, a team the Knights have not faced yet this season.
“We’ve had a really good week to date,” Team Manager Craig Smith said about the team’s preparation.
"We’ve had to take it a little bit easier on them this week after the effort last weekend left a fair few of our boys battered and bruised.
"We’ve backed off them a bit knowing all the work we’ve done all year has got us to where we are.
“The effort the side was able to sustain for 80 minutes and the brand of football we played last weekend against Parramatta was more liking to a semi final-type game of rugby league.
“It was probably the most complete performance we’ve had for the whole team, across the board and the biggest fight they’ve had on their hands.
“They came up against a big Eels side who had three NRL players back in their side who aren’t eligible to play 20s in the final series, but turned up to our home ground wanting to beat us.
“But we were good enough on the day due to our guys’ attitude.”
The NYC Knights field a similar side with 16-year-old Brock Lamb to replace his SG Ball teammate Jack Cogger, who suffered an ankle injury last weekend, while Joseph Tapine returns after a week on the sideline with an ankle injury.
The high intensity game against the Eels has proved perfect preparation approaching the business end of the season.
“To play a semi final style game of football two weeks out from the actual semi-final and to set a standard is really good for us,” Smith acknowledged.
“What they’ve done is show themselves how hard they can work and consistent they can be.
However, the Dragons will no doubt put up an unremitting fight as they chase the minor premiership.
“The Dragons are a really good side, they have been one of the most consistent sides all year so they will turn up and will play the brand of football they play, which is not too dissimilar to the way our boys like to play their football,” Smith said.
“If we play the brand of football we want to play, we’ll be hard to beat, especially on Old Boys Day with the emotion of the day.
“We hope to end the day on a victory and the minor premiership on the back of it.”
Where it will be won:
“A big thing for our 20s this weekend will be to not let the emotion of the day and the possible outcomes of the day affect their performance,” Smith warned.
“Everything you do in rugby league, there’s a structure you go through and the end result ends up a part of what that structure is.
“If we get ahead of ourselves and start thinking minor premiership, then our frame of mind isn’t right.”
“There’s a lot at stake this weekend, it’s more than just two points,” Smith said.
“We both know where we stand, the best team will win.”
Members and supporters are encouraged to arrive early to cheer on the young Knights from 11.45am. Buy your ticket for the Knights v Dragons Old Boys Day HERE.