"Photo: Paul Barkley / Melba Studios"

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v PENRITH PANTHERS

Round 4, 2015 NYC

Date: Saturday, March 28

Kick off: 10.40pm local time

Venue: Hunter Stadium

Last time they met:

The NYC Knights trounced the Panthers by a 40-22 margin at Hunter Stadium in Round 9 last year.

Teams:

KNIGHTS

1. Dylan Phythian, 2. Brody Lam, 3. Josh Birch, 4. Braden Robson, 5. Ken Tofilau, 6. Brock Lamb, 7. Jack Cogger, 8. Josh King, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Bradie Smith, 12. Jacob Saifiti, 13. Luke Yates. Interchange: 14. Jack Kelly, 15. Ben Steven, 16. Faitotoa Faitotoa, 17. Ben Stone, 18. Jared Nott.

PANTHERS

1. Brent Naden, 2. Braidon Burns, 3. Christian Chrichton, 4. Jack Nelson, 5. Josh Jay, 6. Tyrone May, 7. Dylan Edwards, 8. Oliver Clark, 9. Sione Katoa, 10. Paea Pua, 11. Kaide Ellis, 12. Dave Cowhan, 13. Dylan Fua. Interchange: 14. Maliko Filino, 15. Soni Hala, 16. Thompson Tuigamala, 17. Corey Harawira-Naera.

Match Analysis

The NYC Newcastle Knights are eager to return to Hunter Stadium this Saturday following two weeks on the road.

After a second half revival against the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday, team manager Craig Smith expects the Knights to repeat the same effort this week that earned the hard fought victory.

“The Knights scored 29 points in the second half to snatch a one-point lead from the Titans,” Smith said.

“We challenged the team at half time and they responded.

"We challenged them individually about just giving what they had to give.

“We have had two away games and we are back at home where we love playing.

“We will be well rested and will be coming up against the Panthers, a Club that is traditionally throughout their juniors, fairly strong, so we’ll have to be on our game.

“We've had a really good week this week in training and preparation."

The young Knights have adapted well after losing a number of players like Josh Birch, fullback Bryce Donavan and Mao Uta through injury since round one.

“We have three players since round one that we’ve lost through injury, so the team is still finding its way with cohesion and partnerships," Smith said. 

“The good part of what has happened is that the forwards have maintained the same pack, so they are working really well.”

Smith praised hooker Danny Levi and lock Luke Yates who have played phenomenal NYC football after training with the NRL squad in the pre-season and anticipates the pair to play important leadership roles against the Panthers. 

“There are lot of positives in the fact the pack has maintained the same for what will be a month worth of footy, and the fact that we’ll be playing at home," Smith said.

With Bryce Donovan still on the sidelines with an ankle injury, youngster Brock Lamb has stepped in as goal kicker.

“He’s been kicking well after kicking for the Australian Schoolboys last year,” Smith said.

The NYC side will also harness the boost of enthusiasm provided by local talents Dylan Pythian and Jack Kelly.

“Young local boy, Dylan Pythian filled in at fullback last week and was Players’ Player,” Smith said.

"Jack Kelly has played all games for us this year and he’s a Lakes boy.

"We will be all hands on deck and will be looking to keep our home record in tact."

Where it will be won:

In the forwards.

“It will be won and lost in the forward in the middle of the field,” Smith said.

“They all love our conditioning skills games when the ball is in their hands.

"They don’t love the conditioning so much when there’s no ball and they have to get up and down off the ground, which is all that hard stuff.

“With a bit of luck and our forwards can lay a platform as they did in the second half of last week.

"With our forward pack together for the last month, they are starting to understand that a little bit more.

“You have the likes of Brock Lamb Jack Cogger, Braden Robson and Josh Birch and all the guys out wide.

“We have a pretty slick backline, but you can’t utilise them if you don’t dominate in the middle.

"We hope to look after the middle because that’s where we think we’ll win the game."

Last Word:

“We are defending our Kingdom as we like to say with the Knights,” Smith said.

“It will be a big game for us with all three games at Hunter Stadium."