ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
2015 Holden Cup
Date: Sunday August 2, 11.45pm
Venue: Jubilee Stadium
Last time they met:
In what proved to be an end-to-end battle the Dragons beat the Knights 46-36 in Round 5 at Hunter Stadium.
1. Matt Dufty, 2. Dee Jay Harris, 3. Topiese Taufa, 4. Izaac Thompson, 5. Tom Carr, 6. Drew Hutchison, 7. Jack Payne, 8. Matt Jurd, 9. Ryan Fletcher, 10. Blake Lawrie, 11. Ryan James, 12. Jacob Host, 13. Thomas Freebairn. Interchange: 14. Kelly Tate, 15. Jay Gallagher, 16. PJ Lose, 17. Nathan Leatigaga, 18. Leigh Higgins, 19. Luciano Leilua, 20. Josh Daley.
1.Bryce Donovan, 2. Fuaimamao Uta, 3. Josh Birch, 4. Jacob Gagai, 5. Ken Tofilau, 6. Brock Lamb, 7. Jake McNamara, 8. Josh King, 9. Jack Kelly, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11, Jacob Saifiti, 12. Ben Stone, 13. Luke Yates. Interchange: 14. Jayden Butterfield, 15. Tyrone Amey, 16. Sam Stone, 17. Braden Robson.
As the NYC Newcastle Knights roll into their Round 21 match against the St George Illawarra Dragons the team begins to zero in on a run to the finals.
The young Knights find themselves in eighth position on the ladder and come up against an opponent that will no doubt be eager to lift themselves off the bottom of the table.
But that’s no reason for the Knights to take their foot off the pedal, NYC Knights development coach Mick Reid said.
“They are always dangerous because the thing is a team that’s on the bottom is always going to be tough.
"They are playing to get off the bottom because no one wants to be there.”
Coupled with the home ground advantage he thinks the Knights must stay on their toes.
The Knights posted a two-point win against the South Sydney Rabbitohs to put themselves back in the top eight and displayed plenty of character in their performance on Saturday.
“What we need to do is take how we finished the game,” he said.
“That all starts with the side putting a microscope on areas of their game they need to clean up.
“We led by 18 points and we let in quite a few easy tries.
“If we are going to go further, we need to tidy up in defence.
“Our penalty count is also what we need to be aware of, it was near double what it should be.
“They are things that will bite us in any game whether you’re playing the top or the bottom.
“If you keep giving away penalties, it chews more juice up.
“We have talked about it yesterday so we have to really be on the money about giving away cheap penalties and giving the other teams a leg up.
The return of key personnel from injury will assist their finals ambition.
"Hopefully we get a few more players back from injury in the next week like Jack Cogger, Josh Birch and Braden Robson so the team is back to full strength and we start forming some better work ethics," he said.
Jacob Saifiti returned last week from injury and Reid is looking forward to a combination developing further between him and his twin brother Daniel.
“Them teaming up should help us with the run back into the semis.”
In what will be his third game since rejoining the Club, Reid expects the same type of energy and hunger from Jacob Gagai.
“He watches and waits and if there is an opportunity there, he’ll take it," he said.
“You have to be up there between the players to give yourself that chance.”
Reid says the team's back three have been playing well over the last few weeks with Bryce Donovan, Fuaimamao Uta and Ken Tofilau all contributing impressive form which has seen them recognised with recent Players’ Player Awards.
“They are doing what they have been asked to do and that’s a great relief for the forwards when they see the back three doing their job properly and takes a work load of them," he said.
Most of all, Reid sees the NYC Knights showing the right attitude and desire required to finish the season in a positive way.
“It’s good to see we have a lot of competition in the NYC team,” he said.
“That competition is giving us a lot more players to choose from.”
Where it will be won:
“With the forwards coming back to full strength, if they lay a good platform it will give the halves a lot more room to play their own game,” Reid said.
“Our back three will yet again be vital to helping us with our big forwards at the front and giving them a little bit of a rest.
“I think we are starting to work better as a team.
“The young guys are stepping up and playing some good football.”
Saturday August 2 – Round 21
St George Illawarra Dragons v Newcastle Knights
Venue: Jubilee Stadium