Although the NSW Cup Newcastle Knights face the challenging obstacle of minor premiers the Mounties on their push to the 2015 grand final, belief the team has what it takes to overcome this weekend’s opposition is strong among the players.
The Knights continue to accumulate confidence with each gutsy win, the last against the 2014 premiers, the Penrith Panthers last Sunday at Jubilee Oval.
“Last week the key was to hold them out for the first half, which was a tough effort, and then we come out in the second half strong and blew them away,” forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon told Knights TV after NSW Cup training this week.
Sunday’s match at Leichardt Oval will be the third encounter between the Mounties and Knights with a win on the board for each side.
“The last game at home, it was a tough one, but if we roll through the middle, our forwards can do the work up front. Then I think we’ll have some joy with our outside backs,” he added.
Inconsistency plagued periods of the NSW Cup Knights’ season, but the side has found good form in the later stages of the year, boosted further by the return of players promoted to play in the NRL.
“We went through a rough period there when a couple of the boys were playing grade,” he said.
“The last few weeks we’ve had a few boys back like Jake Mamo and Newto (Clint Newton).
“Having them back brings a lot of experience and once you have them back in the team it all gels together."
Meanwhile, Damien Sironen has offered strength and size to the Knights’ pack since joining the Club in June.
The 22-year-old praised the efforts of the side in last weekend’s win that progressed the side to Sunday's preliminary final.
“The first 20 minutes was really solid for us, and the 20 minutes after that probably defined the game," Sironen said.
“Our bench was really strong and I was really proud of the effort.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time here. Hopefully we can go all the way.
“It’s going to be a really tough challenge for us but I’m confident in the squad that we’ve got.
"If you just look at the last couple of weeks, we’ve hit a bit of form.”
Meanwhile, Sironen acknowledge the strong support shown by Knights fans who’ve hit the road to cheer on the side in the finals.
“Last week we got a high five with everyone that came down,” he said.
“It will be more the merrier who get to Leichardt on the weekend.”
The NSW Cup Knights play face the Mounties at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday at 3.10pm.