NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Round 22, 2015 NRL Premiership
Date: Sunday August 9, 4pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Referee: Ashley Klein
Last time they met:
The Knights beat the Roosters 16-12 in an unforgettable match at Hunter Stadium last year with the red and blues scoring a very late try to steal the win.
Of the 47 matches between these two sides the Knights have won 19 and drawn two.
1. Kurt Gidley (c), 2. Jake Mamo, 3. Sione Mata’utia, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Nathan Ross, 6. Carlos Tuimavave, 7. Tyrone Roberts, 8. Kade Snowden, 9. Adam Clydsdale, 10. Korbin Sims, 11. Beau Scott, 12. Tariq Sims, 13. Jeremy Smith. Bench: 14. Tyler Randell, 15. Dave Fa’alogo, 16. Chris Houston, 17. Clint Newton.
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Blake Ferguson, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. James Maloney, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, 9. Jake Friend (c), 10. Dylan Napa, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Mitchell Aubusson, 13. Aidan Guerra, 14. Jackson Hastings, 15. Isaac Liu, 16. Kane Evans, 17. Sio Siua Taukeiaho, 18. Suaia Matagi, 19. Matt McIlwrick.
While the Knights didn’t get the two points against the Dragons last week they did show a positive shift in attitude.
If not for concentration lapses in the second half the young side could have very well come away with a win.
The playing group is now focused on taking another step in the right direction in Indigenous Round at Hunter Stadium, but teams don’t get much tougher to beat than the Sydney Roosters.
For half an hour last week the Knights played to their potential and blew the Dragons off the park by scoring 20 unanswered points.
An 80-minute performance is what is required this week.
“It’s the holy-grail every week, and possession has become critical to that,” Director of Football Michael Hagan explains.
“I thought we demonstrated that for the first 40 minutes last week, when we responded from being down 12-0.
“The play count and the possession went against us in the second half and that has a huge influence on the energy to keep defending.
“That’s a real challenge for our team at the moment.”
With a big forward pack and clever halves the Roosters know how to keep possession and starve their opposition of it, so one of the big focuses for the Knights will be keeping errors and penalties to a minimum.
While the red and blues didn’t make too many errors against the Dragons they did concede eight penalties, five of which directly led to tries or penalty goals.
“That’s the challenge for the team - to repel those attacking raids and defending penalties,” Hagan notes.
“Defensively I thought we were better for long periods of the game, but we’re still giving up soft tries when we’re under a bit of pressure.”
Korbin Sims will be playing his 50th NRL game on Sunday afternoon, and has been a big contributor in attack and defence over the last few months.
With partner in crime Kade Snowden in doubt due to concussion, Sims will have to have a big game against an intimidating Roosters pack.
“I spoke to Korbin yesterday about that milestone coming up, and I think that’s one of the real positive things for the team at the moment,” Hagan says.
“Lots of the young players like Korbin have been consistently performing and it’s a good challenge for him coming up against the Roosters pack.
“It’s about those younger players making the most of the games they play in first grade and learning as much as possible.”
While Nathan Ross isn’t exactly young, he did make the most of his first NRL appearance last week.
“He handled his first game really well, came up with a try on that left side and defended pretty strongly,” Hagan added.
“They’ll test him this weekend with Pearce and Maloney’s kicking game, so hopefully he’ll handle that challenge.”
Where it will be won:
In the forwards.
“The Roosters have a very powerful forward pack full of running with (Jared) Waerea-Hargreaves, (Aidan) Guerra, (Dylan) Napa,” Hagan says.
“They’re all Test and representative calibre players, so that’s a big challenge for our team this week.”
The Final Word:
“You have to try to muscle up against the Roosters because they will be coming out to be big and physical,” Korbin Sims said in a press conference on Tuesday morning.
The Knights proudly support RECOGNISE this Indigenous Round, find out more HERE.