NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v ILLAWARRA CUTTERS
2015 NSW Cup, Round 22
Date: Sunday August 9, 11.45pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Gates Open: 11.30am
1. Kerrod Holland, 2. Honeti Tuha, 3. Pat Mata’utia, 4. Chanel Mata’utia, 5. Jarred Nott, 6. George Ndaira, 7. Jaelen Feeney, 8. Sam Mataora, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Paterika Vaivai, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Joseph Tapine, 13. Marvin Filipo. Interchange: 15. James Taylor, 16. Brett Jarrett, 17. Ben Tupou, 18. Michael Steele, 20. Damien Sironen, 24. Tama Koopu.
1.Blake Wallace, 2. Kayne Brennan, 3. Junior Vaivai, 4. Nathan Green, 5. Eto Nabuli
6. Adam Clune, 7. Shannon Crook, 8. Russell Packer, 9. Heath L'Estrange, 10. Luke Page, 11. Tekina Vailea, 12. Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard, 13. Sam Coster. Interchange: 14. Brent Anderson, 15. Shanoon Wakeman, 16. Peni Botiki, 17. Fraser Alcock.
The Knights sail into their Round 22 match against the Illawarra Cutters revitalised from the break the bye has offered with the memory of their impressive Round 20 comeback still fresh in their memories.
This week is a significant game for both teams. The Knights can retain fifth position with a win while the Cutters are able to climb higher than the Knights on the competition ladder if they beat them on Sunday.
Coach Matt Lantry saw plenty of pleasing signs in reserve grade's efforts up against the Canterbury Bulldogs which players are determined to build on when they return to Hunter Stadium for the final time this season.
“It certainly wasn’t in the game plan, but you’ll take a win any way you’ll get it,” he said about the Knights' last minute revival at Belmore Oval.
When the side was 24-6 down, the NSW Cup coach said he didn’t think the team’s performance was accurately reflected in the scoreboard.
“In general our goal line defence was good and defensively we were handling the offloads from the Bulldogs," he said.
"We thought if we could get a fair share of possession and we settled ourselves down, then we could give ourselves a crack.
“I was happy with the boys and that they hung in there and found a win because it would have been easy to throw in the towel."
Yet the Illawarra Cutters are likely to carry momentum from a close victory over the Panthers last weekend.
“They have a decent lineup and their pack is probably their strength,” he said.
“Russell Packer, Luke Page as well as Shannon Wakeman off the bench, they will certainly ask some questions from our middle third.
“If they do, they have some classy outside backs to really have a crack at us.”
But the Knights' lineup offers just as much strike power out wide.
Jarrod Nott plays his first game for the Knights’ reserve grade after making his way from Central Charlestown in the Newcastle Competition.
“He’s done a little bit in the Under 20s this year and gets an opportunity with Cup, so I’m looking forward how he goes," he said.
“I’m not sure if he’ll play left or right, but he'll have some good experience on his inside, that’s for sure."
Try-scoring dynamo Honeti Tuha returns from a hamstring injury with gifted goal kicker, Kerrod Holland making his first appearance in the number one jersey this week.
“We will lose plenty of energy and enthusiasm with Nathan Ross named in NRL, but Kerrod Holland get’s his first crack at fullback this week," he said.
Lantry was impressed with the way Holland finished his game at fullback where he set up a try and bagged one himself.
“I’m looking forward to how he goes in the number one.”
Former coaching staff member and Knights’ first grade player George Ndaira has again come in to add depth to the side.
“He offers that versatility for us and is only turning 30 this year so still has enough youth on his side but is experienced enough to get us around the park,” he said.
“Whether he’s in the number nine or in the halves, he’s a real asset to the team at this stage of the season.
“Whilst we have lost some blokes (to first grade), that’s what the NSW Cup competition is meant to do, push players through to the NRL.
"It’s also there for opportunity and you can see that by the number of part-timers playing.
“I think the pleasing thing is our part-time players coming from the local competition have stepped up to NSW Cup level.”
Where it will be won:
"If we can get off to a good start and have patience and execute well enough, we will get the job done," Lantry says.