UPDATED - South Sydney defeated the Knights 34-30. After trailing Souths 28-6 at half time, it was a gallant second half comeback by our young Knights who just fell short in today's final at Cabramatta.
TEAM: Matt Faitotoa, Heath Gibbs, Cory Denniss, Blake Andrews, Sam McIntyre, Brodie Jones, Brendan O'Hagen, Jayden Butterfield, Tom Sterling, Viko Pulurves, Sam Stone, Ryan Millgate, Kurtis Dark. Bench: Lyndon Hills, Luke Marks, Mase King, Hudson Young.
After finishing sixth on the competition ladder, the Newcastle Knights SG Ball side progresses to the semi-final on Saturday.
Coach Trevor Ott believes the U18 Knights’ place in the finals is a reward for consistent football throughout the season.
“We are a very young side so consistency is something we’ve aimed for,” Ott said.
“That’s probably helped us to a crack at the semi finals."
With 17 teams in the competition, Saturday’s match will be the Knights’ first encounter with South Sydney.
“We have watched some highlights and videos of the team and they have some strong forwards and some big fellas we will have to handle in the middle,” he said.
“But I think our skill and finesse will do the trick.”
The SG Ball Knights have a number of top performing players who have worked hard thoroughout the season including Jayden Butterfield who will return into the front row after missing two weeks through injury.
“He’s been very good week in week out," Ott said.
NSW Cup coach Matt Lantry has been following the team’s success throughout the season and believes the Knights have performed particularly well considering many of the players are much younger than their opponents.
“These competitions this time of year are always affected by school footy and Club starts, there a number of things that impact on the team, so they have done really well to finish in the top eight,” Lantry added.
“It’s a really good experience for those kids as not too many have played semi-final football at that level before and they’ll soon find out what it’s all about.
“There have been a few that have been playing some good footy and they have been rewarded with a bit of training with the Under20s Knights early in the week.”
“It’s good for them to see a pathway in the Club,” Ott said.
“They’re certainly be a few that will move up and fill in with the NYC crew between now and the end of the year.” Lantry said.
“It’s quite a young squad, so that puts us in good stead for 12 months time when a big portion for that squad will stay around and be at the right age for under 18s.
“Our head coach Rick Stone is passionate about the local area and wants to get back to ensuring that our U20s have a strong flavor of local content because the kids around here are good enough.
“If you’re prepared to work hard and take the opportunity, it will always be there.”
SG Ball Semi Final
Newcastle Knights v South Sydney
Date: April 18 2015
Venue: New Era Stadium, Cabramatta