NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Round 12, 2015 NRL Premiership
Date: Sunday May 31, 2pm AEST
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Referee: Ben Cummins
Last time they met:
The Knights beat the Warriors 24-14 in Round 1 at Hunter Stadium to start 2015 with a win.
These two sides have clashed 33 times and the Knights come out on top with 17 wins. The Knights have also won eight and drawn one at Mt Smart from 18 appearances there, which is a respectable record considering the venue is one of the most challenging away stadiums to play at.
1. Dane Gagai, 2. James McManus, 3. Sione Mata'utia, 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Kurt Gidley (c), 7. Tyrone Roberts, 8. Kade Snowden, 9. Adam Clydsdale, 10. David Fa'alogo, 11. Beau Scott, 12. Tariq Sims, 13. Jeremy Smith. Bench: 14. Tyler Randell, 15. Chris Houston, 16. Korbin Sims, 17. Jack Stockwell.
1. Sam Tomkins, 2. Jonathan Wright, 3. Tuimoala Lolohea, 4. Solomone Kata, 5. Manu Vatuvei, 6. Chad Townsend, 7. Shaun Johnson, 8. Jacob Lillyman, 9. Nathan Friend, 10. Ben Matulino, 11. Bodene Thompson, 12. Ryan Hoffman, 13. Simon Mannering (c). Bench: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Sebastine Ikahihifo, 16. Sam Lisone, 17. Albert Vete.
The Knights kicked off brilliantly against the Broncos last week, but then went on to concede 25 unanswered points.
It all starts again this week for the men in red and blue as they look for redemption, but away days don’t get much harder than Mt Smart Stadium.
“Concentration is important every week in the NRL, and we had some bad lapses in concentration against the Broncos and paid the price for the tries we gave up,” Director of Football Michael Hagan explains.
“But again the few key injuries really hurt the team and we seemed to lack a bit of direction when Kurt (Gidley) was off the field."
However, Hagan is quick to point out that Mt Smart Stadium has been a relatively happy hunting ground for the Knights.
“It really comes down to your mindset on how you start the game and how you limit their strong go-forward up the middle,” he says.
While the Knights are struggling with injuries the Warriors are starting to get players back, with the likes of Manu Vatuvei and Sam Tomkins returning from stints on the sidelines.
Both those players know how to find the try-line and will be eager to have big games in front of their fans.
Hagan believes that the Knights will be better served focusing on their own game though, especially after having an alarmingly low completion rate in their second half against the Broncos.
“The challenge for our team this week is to work really hard on our completions and kicking game against a team like the Warriors that can roll forwards on you and can play an expansive sort of game,” he says.
“Their front rowers are very strong with Lillyman and Matulino, and their back row with Thompson, Hoffman and Mannering.
“So you know you’ve got your work cut out for you when you’re up against a quality team like that over there.”
With a forward pack like that, chief enforcer Beau Scott would be more than handy.
After playing 58 minutes of Origin on Wednesday night he won't travel with the team on Friday, instead traveling with the other grades on Saturday.
“Beau got through the game against Queensland the other night, but I guess it’s a matter of how he recovers over the next 48 hours leading up to this game,” Hagan explains.
“They’ve got Lillyman and Hoffman coming back from Origin as well, so one or both of those guys may not play.”
Where it will be won:
“That’s the real strength of the Warriors, without question,” Hagan says.
“If you allow them to play fast that brings the likes of Tomkins and Johnson into the game.”
“It’s a challenge for us, but I’m looking forward to it personally and playing those boppers, especially over there as they’ll be fired up with a home crowd,” Jack Stockwell said in an interview on Thursday morning.