NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS V ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Round 5 Holden Cup
Date: Saturday April 4
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Last time they met:
The Knights went down to the Dragons 30-22 in the NYC qualifying final after beating the team the previous week in Round 26. The fact the Knights won the minor premiership meant the team progressed to the semi-final.
1. Bryce Donovan, 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. Fuaimamao Uta, 19. Noah Easton.
1. Matt Dufty, 2. William Tom 3. Lachlan Stein, 4. Izaac Thompson, 5. Bessie Aufaga Toomaga, 6. Drew Hutchison, 7. Adam Clune, 8. Heheako Tuima, 9. Abraham Atallah, 10. Jack Kavanagh, 11. Ryan James, 12. Jacob Host, 13. Hame Sele. Interchange: 14. Josh Daley, 15. Jay Gallagher, 16. Nathan Leatigaga, 17. Kelly Tate, 18. Paora Kemp, 19. Tom Freebairn.
NYC strength and conditioning coach Mick Reid says the NYC Newcastle Knights will focus on making improvements instead of reflecting on last year’s contests against the St George Illawarra Dragons.
“Last year is dead and buried. We have a different team and they have a different team so we are just concentrating on what we need to do to go though and get a win this weekend,” Reid said.
So the NYC Knights have funneled their energy into bettering their winning efforts after last round’s clash against the Penrith Panthers.
“We have virtually gone back to some of the basics that we did in the off season,” he said.
“We’ve been working a lot around our defence and in particular our middle defence.
“We are trying to get a little more steel grit instilled in them.
“We’re not really looking at them (Dragons), we’re just trying to isolate what we’ve done and improve on last week.
“I think we were a little bit sloppy towards the back end of the game and also on our
edges. They were attacking our right edge that game.
“We want to do some work to sure up that area.
The NYC Knights continue to strive to establish themselves as superior performers in the challenging competition.
“We don’t want to be an NYC team from the past were they’re scoring 40 points in a half. We want to be better than that,” he said.
“Myself, Smithy (Craig) and Troy (Pezet) are trying to instill a bit of defence in our guys so we don’t end up like one of the other NYC teams.
“We got away to a good start against the Panthers and were up 22 points and then they scored 36 points on us in the second half, so that’s a bit of a worrying sign.
“When the boys come back from the 10-minute break and think they have it won, they can go inside themselves a little and go a bit flat.
“Before they know it, the other team has scored points on us.
“What we are trying to get them to get their heads around being stronger when they come back from the break and maintain the flow in the first half."
Fullback Bryce Donovan and centre Josh Birch have both recovered from ankle sprains, which sidelined them the last few weeks.
“They’ve both recovered well and will be in the line-up on Saturday," Reid added.
However, with Dylan Phythian who has filled in at fullback in Donavan’s absence and has earned Man of the Match, it’s sure to add healthy competition in the side.
“He’s been playing really well and taken the challenge to Bryce,” he said.
“But competition is good within the NYC and your position is not always safe week to week.
“Daniel Saifiti is also expected to return this week after a minor issue with his neck."
Where it will be won:
“Again, it’s always going to be won in the forwards,” Reid said.
“That’s where we will be coming from in the week. We like to instill a bit of discipline and true grit in the middle and enforce our hand a little bit.
“If we can get over the top any team, it’s the same with any team in the NYC or NRL, if your forwards are going forward then it makes it a lot easier for your outside backs.”