SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 13 – FINAL WEEK 1
Newcastle Knights v St George Illawarra Dragons
Venue: Allianz Stadium
Last time they met:
The Knights have just a six-day turn around to again face the St George Illawarra Dragons after slaying the side 36-26 last Sunday at Hunter Stadium. The game saw impressive form from 17-year-old Brock Lamb who scored a double after only playing a handful of games with the team as well as Bryce Donovan whose try and solid kicking game contributed to the Knights’ 10 points lead.
1. Jake Mamo, 2. Bryce Donovan, 3. Sione Mata’utia, 4. Chance Peni, 5. Braden Robson, 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, 7. James Taylor.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA
1. Matt Dufty, 2. Sitiveni Moceidreke, 3. Euan Aitken, 4. Brent Anderson, 5. Izaac Thompson, 6. Shannon Crook, 7. Adam Clune, 8. Addin Fonua-Blake, 9. Hayden McCrae, 10. Jay Gallagher, 11. Wes Lolo, 12. Jack Bird, 13. Vincent Stowers, 14. Andrew McCarthy, 15. Thomas Freebairn, 16. Jack Kavanagh, 17. Luciano Leilua, 18. Jacob Host, 20. Hame Sele, 22. George Lolo.
The NYC Newcastle Knights are ready and raring to head into the first week of the finals and according to the Club’s strength and conditioning coach Mick Reid, the team is on track to reach its peak just at the right time of the season.
“They are progressing nicely and this is what we want, for them to start hitting their peak towards the back end of the year, the finals, semi finals and grand finals,” Reid said.
“The penny has slowly dropped with them so what we need to do is keep working on moving forward so we hit at the right time of the year, which is hopefully the grand final.”
With the conclusion of the Knights' NRL season, Sione Mata’utia, Jake Mamo and Joseph Tapine are all back in the under 20s ranks.
Mamo was named in the line up last week, but at the last minute was rested due to a problem with his back.
“We decided to give him the week off to make sure he was right for this weekend,” Reid said.
“The advantage is that the boys coming back have got some NRL experience and their understanding of how to control a game is a little bit better, yet the danger is the guys in the squad who haven’t been up there will rely on them a little but more,” Reid said.
“What we have to try to get our boys up to where Sione, Jake and Joe have been.”
The fact that Sione has maintained a close contact with the team and has been there in the dressing sheds and half time each week following the team with great interest is a positive.
“He loves playing rugby league, he’s pretty pumped and think he’ll have a positive influence on the rest of the players around him,” Reid said.
The combination between Mata’utia and Chance Peni on the wing will no doubt be dangerous with the added experience Mata’utia will bring from his time in first grade.
At the same time, the partnership between Bryce Donovan and Braden Robson on the Knights' opposite wing is also expected to be a prosperous one.
Donovan was the highest point scorer in the entire NYC competition bagging an abundance of tries and offering up a consistent kicking game for his team all season.
Captain Danny Levi will again be at the helm of the team after sitting out of last week’s game due to a strained quad.
“He’s back and strong this week which is the most important game for us,” Reid said.
The side will be carried on the strength of NRL debutant Joe Tapine and the powerful Lachlan Fitzgibbon who has proved a regular try scorer for the team.
Reid said the Knights expect high intensity from the opposition right from the start.
They will bring a little bit more fire and enthusiasm, they have four players back, so will be a bit like us and have a little bit of extra strength there,” Reid said.
“They won the back end of the game last week so that’s where we should be mindful of and control the game a little bit better than what we did last.
“I think we need to be a bit more professional.
“The boys have their mind on the job and know there’s the bigger picture out there."
Where it will be won:
Whoever wants the win most.
We are both evenly matched,” Reid said.
They’re the same as us, right across the board.
“We’re not a big team but we are team that works together so it will be who controls the game.
“The kicking game will be a big part of it, the Dragons have some good kickers.
“They showed the smarts there a little bit last week when they got a 40/20 in the chip in the back end so we need to be wary of their kickers.
“It will come down to who controls the ball and a little bit of mental toughness."
The final word:
Fullback Jake Mamo reveals there’s a positive vibe among his teammates as Saturday’s game approaches.
“We’ll go into this game with quite a different side and they will too, so we can’t really take much from last week’s game, but we’ll be fielding our strongest team and we’ll play how we know how to play and hopefully come away with the win.