NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v BRISBANE BRONCOS
Round 16, 2015 NRL Premiership
Date: Friday June 26, 7.35pm
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Referee: Jared Maxwell
Last time they met:
The Broncos came from behind to beat the Knights 31-18 at Hunter Stadium in Round 11 this year.
The Knights have found it tough against the Broncos, having only won 13 of their 44 games against the league leaders.
1. Jake Mamo, 2. James McManus, 3. Sione Mata'utia, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Carlos Tuimavave, 7. Kurt Gidley (c), 8. Pat Vaivai, 9. Tyler Randell, 10. Korbin Sims, 11. Beau Scott, 12. Tariq Sims, 13. Robbie Rochow. Bench: 14. Danny Levi, 15. Sam Mataora, 16. Joseph Tapine, 17. Clint Newton.
1. Darius Boyd, 2. Jordan Kahu, 3. Jack Reed, 4. Justin Hodges (c), 5. Lachlan Maranta, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. Josh McGuire, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Adam Blair, 11. Alex Glenn, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Corey Parker. Bench: 14. Jarrod Wallace, 15. Mitchell Dodds, 16. Corey Oates, 17. Matt Parcell.
Games aren’t won by focusing on the negatives though, and assistant coach Craig Sandercock is keen to focus on things that the Knights can control.
“We’ve got a few out with injuries and Kade Snowden copping a suspension, but while it’s disappointing it also provides opportunities,” Sandercock says.
Young prop Pat Vaivai will be starting only his second game for the Club while 19-year-old Danny Levi will again be on the bench.
These are the sort of chances that these players work for week in and week out in the lower grades.
When they do get the call-up there is a desperation and hunger to their game that can make up for any lack of NRL experience.
“Opportunity is what some of these boys have been given,” Sandercock admits.
“Jake Mamo took his last week and we’re hoping these boys take theirs this week.”
If the fresh faces can play anything like Mamo did against the Sharks last weekend, the Knights will be in a strong position.
But momentary lapses of concentration in defence are damaging the red and blues more than anything else at the moment.
“It’s well documented that those seven minutes in the second half were very disappointing and it ended up costing us the game,” Sandercock says.
In those seven minutes the Knights shipped three tries, while in the other 73 they only conceded two.
“In the NRL you have to concentrate for the full 80 minutes and concentrate on every tackle and every play of the game,” Sandercock says.
“That’s something that we’re working hard to rectify.”
Defence is something the Broncos excel at, as was emphatically demonstrated in their win over the Melbourne Storm on Sunday night.
Much of it occurred when they were pinned back on their own line, and Sandercock argues that if the Storm were a little bit luckier in even one of their plays then the end result could have been very different.
“If you look carefully at the video, Melbourne came so close to scoring on so many occasions,” he explains.
“But credit to Brisbane, there was some good desperate defence.
“It’s a very big challenge for us now, obviously their performance against Melbourne was outstanding and their defence first class.”
The Knights were boosted by the return of Robbie Rochow last week, who will be better for getting one game under his belt.
“He was impressive, there’s no doubt about that,” Sandercock agrees.
“It was his first game last week and we thought he was really good.
“He did everything right out there, he’s a good talker and a very enthusiastic part of the team so that’s a real bonus for us.”
Where it will be won:
The Knights have rarely struggled to score tries this season – it’s when they start conceding points that problems arise.
“Obviously our defence is very important, so if we get our house in order and get an even share of the ball, then hopefully we’ll come away with the win,” Sandercock says.
“He’s been gradually stepping up his work in the last couple of weeks,” Rick Stone said of Jarrod Mullen on Tuesday.
“We’ve been working to get some sort of conclusion there and it looks like he’s running around pain-free, which is good.”