PENRITH PANTHERS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Round 26, 2015 NRL Premiership
Date: Saturday September 5, 3pm
Venue: Pepper Stadium
Referee: Gavin Reynolds
Last time they met:
Sporting hi-vis jerseys the Knights beat the Panthers 24-14 at Hunter Stadium in Round 4.
These two sides have met on 41 occasions with the Knights coming out on top more often than not with 23 wins and three draws. The red and blues have also won 12 and drawn three of their 21 games played in Penrith.
1. Jake Mamo, 2. Nathan Ross, 3. Sione Mata’utia, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Kurt Gidley (c), 7. Tyrone Roberts, 8. Kade Snowden, 9. Adam Clydsdale, 10. Korbin Sims, 11. Beau Scott, 12. Tariq Sims, 13. Chris Houston. Bench: 14. Tyler Randell, 15. Joseph Tapine, 16. Clint Newton, 17. Sam Mataora.
1. Will Smith. 2. Josh Mansour, 3. Waqa Blake, 4. Lewis Brown, 5. David Simmons, 6. Apisai Koroisau, 7. Jamie Soward, 8. Sam McKendry, 9. James Segeyaro, 10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 11. Bryce Cartwright, 12. Tyrone Peachey, 13. Isaah Yeo. Bench: 14. Tupou Sopoaga, 15. Jeremy Latimore, 16. Lelani Latu, 17. Sika Manu.
There have been plenty of ups and downs in 2015, but the season will hopefully come to a close on a positive note for the Newcastle Knights this Saturday afternoon.
The red and blues will be coming up against a side that was one game away from the grand final last year, but have had a significant reversal in their fortunes this term after a horror run with injuries.
This weekend alone the Panthers could be without 11 first-team players if Bryce Cartwright and Jamie Soward don’t recover from injuries incurred in Round 25.
While the Knights currently have five players sidelined, they will still have a significant advantage in terms of personnel available on Saturday afternoon. Not that any of the players wearing red and blue can afford to think that way.
“They’ve copped way more injuries than we have and it’s really impacted on their year,” Director of Football Michael Hagan says.
“But in the end we’ve just got to try and get our own house in order and not think too much about the shape of their line-up.”
Korbin Sims’ appearance at the Match Review Committee on Wednesday saw him found not guilty of a dangerous contact charge from last week, and Hagan believes that his inclusion will be a big boost for the side as well.
“That was a real plus, there wasn’t much in the tackle and I’m pleased that it’s not going to change his opportunity to finish off the year,” Hagan explains.
“He’s been one of our most consistent players, so I think he’s going to be really important for us up front.
“He’s carrying the ball really well and working really hard, and he’s very important to how we play.”
Hagan also predicts big games from Kurt Gidley, Clint Newton, Beau Scott and Tyrone Roberts, who will all be moving on from the Club once the season is done.
“It was a really good send off last week at home for Old Boys Day, but the realisation of your last game sinks in when you take the boots off,” he says.
“They’ll have a little bit more of an emotional approach to the game and I’m sure they will be trying to finish their careers at the Knights in the most positive way they can.”
The team also has a decent record on the road over the last few weeks that will put them in good stead on Saturday, beating the Tigers and Storm in their last two away outings.
“The attitude and the effort in our last few away games has been good, and I think we’ve got a pretty good record down in Penrith,” Hagan agrees.
“I think the players don’t hold too many fears of playing at their home ground and if the preparation and concentration are there then we can finish the year on a good note.”
Where it will be won
It’s been a long season but the players will have to dust themselves off for one more contest.
“It’s in the mindset… in working hard and knowing it’s your last game but not getting carried away,” Hagan says.
“We need to be consistent with the things we do well and have a good attitude in defence.”
The final word
While the team didn’t win last week against the Bulldogs, there was still plenty of heart shown against a team that will be there or thereabouts come the pointy end of the season.
“We didn’t get the result we wanted last week, but it was a gutsy effort and one of the tougher games I have played in this year,” Dane Gagai said in a press conference on Wednesday morning.
“Hopefully we can bring the same effort next week and come away with the two points.”