Josh Mantellato's incredible point scoring ability is sure to be a bonus for the Newcastle Knights when they tackle the Penrith Panthers in Sunday’s NSW Cup grand final.
The Knights advanced to the grand final after a dominating win over the Illawarra Cutters, where Mantellato contributed 18 points in the 34-10 win.
Although the winger takes assurance from the side’s preliminary final performance, he expects an even bigger challenge taking on the minor premiership-winning Panthers.
“They’re a great side, they’ve broken the record for the most wins in a season and have a lot of first grade experience as well,” Mantellato said at HQ this week.
“Their outside backs are lightning quick, so it will be a big job for us to match it with them on the weekend.
“We’ll have to step it up another gear to what we did on the weekend in order to compete against them."
In his eyes, last Sunday’s match against the Cutters is good preparation for the grand final and demonstrates exactly what the Knights will need to reproduce this weekend.
“It was a very tough game, especially in the heat, but our forward pack dominated their forward pack in the first 20 minutes,” he said.
“It was a very bruising and bash-them-up the-middle game, so there were a few sore bodies…but we’re all happy we won and we all get to play in a grand final together.”
As the NSW Cup’s leading point scorer, Mantellato credited his hat-trick to the support from his teammates.
“They create the space and pass the ball, all I have to do is score,” he humbly admits.
“Hopefully it continues this week, I can’t speak highly enough of all the boys who play inside me and give me some good passes or kicks.
“The forwards created a lot of space for the outside backs and myself to score a couple of tries as well.
“They laid the foundations for the rest of the game and we built on the back of that.
“I would have been happy with one try in a final like that, but to get three so quickly, I realised what I’d done by half time.
“If it comes your way, it’s unreal at the end of the day we’re all about winning the game, and I’m just glad we did.”
Support the Knights in Sunday's NSW Cup Grand Final - ticketing and bus information is available HERE.