NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Round 1, 2015 NRL Premiership
Date: Saturday March 7
Kick off: 4:30pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Referee: Ashley Klein
Last time they met:
The Knights came out 28-22 winners at Hunter Stadium in Round 23 of last season, effectively throwing a spanner in the works of the Warriors’ late charge for the finals.
These two sides have met on 32 occasions, Newcastle just coming out on top with 16 wins to the Warriors’ 15.
1. Kurt Gidley (c), 2. James McManus, 3. Dane Gagai, 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Jarrod Mullen, 7. Tyrone Roberts, 8. Kade Snowden, 9. Adam Clydsdale, 10. Korbin Sims, 11. Beau Scott, 12. Robbie Rochow, 13. Jeremy Smith. Interchange: 14. Tyler Randell, 15. Chris Houston, 16. David Fa’alogo, 17. Jack Stockwell, 18. Sione Mata’utia.
1. Sam Tomkins, 2. Tuimoala Lolohea, 3. Konrad Hurrell, 4. Solomone Kata, 5. Manu Vatuvei, 6. Chad Townsend, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. Jacob Lillyman, 9. Thomas Leuluai, 10. Ben Matulino, 11. Bodene Thompson, 12. Ryan Hoffman, 13. Simon Mannering (c). Interchange: 14. Nathan Friend, 15. Ben Henry, 16. Sam Lisone, 17. Albert Vete, 18. Suaia Matagi.
While the Newcastle Knights’ were winners in their last hit out against the Warriors in Round 23 last year at Hunter Stadium, the teams will start from scratch at this weekend’s Round 1 match.
“We have a couple of new players in the team and have a new coach and I think that will take a bit of time but they will be near enough on Saturday,” Knights’ Director of Football Michael Hagan said.
“There is a good balance of young exciting guys in the back line and some good experience and tough guys up front.
“Against the Warriors, you need to match them for speed and skill and in the physical part and I think we are pretty well equipped to handle that."
Korbin Sims will start up front alongside Kade Snowden for the season opener.
“Korbin starting is a reflection of his pre-season. He was really good in the Nines for a big guy and was strong against the Raiders,” Hagan added.
“Rick (Stone) has good coverage with Jack Stockwell and Dave Fa’alogo off the bench in the front row.
“Kade had a good pre-season and was strong against Canberra so we are pretty well prepared for the Warriors because upfront they are fairly strong.”
The are a number of opposition players to watch out for on Saturday.
“The likes of Ben Matulino, Ryan Hoffman and Simon Mannering are all quality players,” Hagan explains.
“Then you have Shaun Johnson who is a dynamite, as well as Sam Tomkins who is in his second year in the NRL.
“A guy that is a handful is Manu Vatuvei, who is quick and a leading try scorer so I’m sure Rick and the coaches have been all over that this week.”
Where it will be won:
“It comes down to fairly simple things like controlling the football,” Hagan said.
“With the Warriors, if you give them more than 50 per cent of the football, you know you’re in for a pretty hard day at the office.
“They have speed and skills and that’s the kind of footy they like to play.
“I’m sure that the team that controls the footy will have it.”
“We need to weather the storm at the start and hopefully our fitness comes into it and we just run over them at the end,” Kade Snowden said this week.