PENRITH PANTHERS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Finals Week 2, NSW Cup
Date: Sunday September 13, 4pm
Venue: Jubliee Oval, Kogarah
Last time they met:
The Knights managed an 18-16 win over the Panthers at Hunter Stadium, but the Panthers hit back in Round 14 defeating the Knights 30-24 at Pepper Stadium.
1. Kieran Moss, 2. Eddie Aiono, 3. Tom Eisenhuth, 4. Ray Lesoa, 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak 6. Daniel Foster, 7. Adrian Davis, 8. Sam Anderson (c) 9. Sione Katoa, 10. Rodney Coates, 11. Chris Smith, 12, Ben Murdoch-Masila, 13. Leilani Latu. Interchange: 14. Andy Saunders, 15. Matt Eisenhuth. 16. Sam Hollis, 17. Brendan Attwood.
1. Jake Mamo 2. Honeti Tuha, 3. Pat Mata’utia, 4. Chanel Mata’utia, 5. Kerrod Holland, 6. Carlos Tuimavave, 7. Jaelen Feeney, 8. Damian Sironen, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Sam Mataora, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Jacob Saifiti, 13. Clint Newton, 14. George Ndaira, 15. Brett Jarrett, 16. Michael Steele, 17. Ben Tupou, 18. Marvin Filipo, 27. Tama Koopu.
The NSW Cup Newcastle Knights prepare to level the score in a tough clash against the Penrith Panthers in week two of the finals played at Jubliee Oval on Sunday.
The two teams have posted a win each during the season, both featuring a narrow score line, so Sunday’s final is anticipated to be an entertaining affair between two sides with plenty of history.
The Knights sail into the second week of the finals after a comprehensive 45-6 victory over the Manly Sea Eagles while the Panthers trail off a 28-10 loss to the Wyong Roos last week on home turf.
Both teams are set to regain a number of players from NRL duties after the two Clubs’ first grade side’s ended their seasons in Round 26.
While there’s early indication the Panthers will field an understrength side due to a number of injury concerns, NSW Cup coach Matt Lantry says the Knights refuse to drop their guard.
Meanwhile, the Knights also gain advantage from the addition of NRL experience with the return of Jake Mamo, Clint Newton and Sam Mataora who have played a collective 28 games in first grade.
“They will bring some enthusiasm back and it’s important that they fit into the systems that we put into place within Cup in the last few weeks,” Lantry said.
“There’s a good feel among the group at the moment.
“Hopefully we can go get the job done on the weekend.”
Lantry explains the team has been industriously working on adding polish to its finals game plan.
“I think again our focus is our defensive efforts, be it kick chase, middle third, defensive attitude and our decision making on the edge,” he said.
“They are things we’ve gone at really hard and need an improve performance on the weekend."
While the players have knuckled down on the field, Lantry says it’s important the atmosphere around training is upbeat and calm.
“What we’ve tried to do is keep the environment relaxed,’ he said.
“I think teams can get too tense and tight and it can effect their performance come the weekend.
“At this time of year it’s about fine-tuning what you need to work on.”
While last year’s loss to the Panthers in the grand final will provide extra motivation for some, Lantry believes that won’t be the sole motivation for the spirited re-match.
“It’s a new team and there are a lot of guys who have moved on from that grand final loss,” he said.
“It still sits deep in some individuals in the game and some revenge would be nice, but it’s not something we talk about or use as motivation from a team perspective.
“Each game is different and that’s how we’ll approach this one on the weekend.”
Where it will be won:
“It just comes down to our defensive attitude really. The team that defends the best will win the game,” Lantry said.
“If you can get into the grind with Penrith and can go set for set hopefully the tide can turn for you.
“We’re not going to take Penrith lightly, regardless of who’s out there.
“I think both teams will be looking to get into that consistent grind throughout the game and will build pressure on each other and see who cracks first.”
The last word:
The NSW Cup Knight Jaelen Feeney said preparation for Sunday’s high stakes final is in full swing with Newcastle's focus falling on defence.
“Whatever team that’s going to defend the best is going to win,” he predicted.
“There’s a big focus on defence so we will do plenty of it on Thursday.