NORTH SYDNEY BEARS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Round 23, 2015 NSW CUP
Date: Saturday August 15, 3pm
Venue: North Sydney Oval
Last time they met:
The Knights defeated the Bears 26-22 at Newcastle No. 2 Sports Ground in Round 9 with Chanel Mata’utia scoring a double.
1. Kerrod Holland, 2. Honeti Tuha, 3. Pat Mata’utia, 4. Carlos Tuimavave, 5. Chanel Mata’utia, 6. George Ndaira, 7. Jaelen Feeney, 8. Damien Sironen, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Paterika Vaivai, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Brett Jarrett, 13. Marvin Filipo. Interchange: 14. Ben Stone, 15. James Taylor, 17. Ben Tupou, 18. Michael Steele, 27. Tama Koopu.
1. Darryl Millard, 2. John Olive, 3. Latrell Schamkhel, 4. Ed Murphy, 5. Bernard Gregorius, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Darren Nicholls (c), 8. Fj Mauala, 9. Scott Sorensen, 10. Zane Musgrove, 11. Tulsa Saumamoa, 12. Jack Gosiewski, 13. Chris Grevsmuhl. Interchange: 14. Matt Hyland, 15. Jesse Roberts, 16. Angus Crichton, 17. Evan Lee, 18. Sam Manuleleua.
Saturday’s match at North Sydney Oval is set to be a spirited clash against two teams that have begun to gather momentum at a key point in the season.
After a slow start to the year, NSW Cup Knights coach Matt Lantry believes a change of coach and influx of players returning from injury and first grade make the Bears a massive threat in the competition.
The Bears head into Saturday’s clash with a string of three wins behind them, similarly the Knights have found good form after a Round 21 bye.
“They are consistently putting some wins together over a long period of time now,” Lantry said about the opponent.
A player who provides an edge to the Bears’ attack and someone the Knights will cover closely is fullback Darryl Millard who has played a number of first grade games.
Likewise their halves pairing in Darren Nicholls and Cody Walker adds energy to the Bears' plays.
“Walker, he’s electrifying with the footy. Give him half an inch and he’s gone,” he said.
“We will need to be on our game defensively in relation to Cody, he controls what they do as a team and has a good kicking game and pushes around the footy.
“Him playing on the right edge, he can structure a nice set piece.
But Lantry believes the Bears pack is their strength.
“Zane Musgrove rolls forward and Grevsmuhl has come back from South Sydney’s NRL crew,” he said.
“They will test us in the middle third, there’s no doubting that.
Damien Sironen features as starting prop this week after being named Players’ Player the previous week.
“I think he gets his greatest challenge so far. The pack the Cutters presented was decent but these guys this weekend will come off the back fence, run hard in the middle third with a quick play the ball,” he said.
“Pat Vaivai, Marvin Filipo and Danny Levi will have their hands full to ensure we control them defensively."
Meanwhile, Carlos Tuimavave has jumped into the centres.
“I thought George (Ndaira) had a really good controlled game playing for us on the weekend and he complemented Jaelen (Feeney) quite well," Lantry said about the Knights' halves.
“Carlos has done a little bit at centre before and one of his attributes is his running game.
“If we can give Carlos some early ball, he can cause some trouble for the defensive team.”
In preparation for the high stakes game, Lantry has drilled his team in maintaining composure and adhering to the game plan.
“Our ability to sustain pressure and give consistent performances week-in-week-out is what I’ve challenged the group on and hopefully we can see the last three weeks coming into the final,’ he said.
“I’d like to see a complete 80-minute performance.”
Where it will be won:
“It will be down to our forward pack versus their forward pack,” Lantry said.
“Having a look at how we play, how direct and aggressive they are.
“If we can control the middle third, that will obviously take some time away from their halves to play with the footy and vice versa for us.
“If we can win the middle third, it will give our outside backs, one of our strengths I think to move the footy.”