NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v WYONG ROOS
NSW Cup Grand Final
Date: Sunday September 27
Kick off: 4pm
Venue: Pirtek Stadium
Last time they met:
Sunday’s grand final will be the third time the Newcastle Knights play against the Wyong Roos this season. In the highly anticipated local derby against the Roos in Round 3, the Knights were on the wrong end of the 18-6 scoreline at Morry Breen Oval. Then in Round 19, the Knights lost out to Wyong 28-26 in a passionate and entertaining match at Newcastle’s No. 2 Sports Ground.
1. Jake Mamo, 2. Honeti Tuha, 3. Kerrod Holland, 4. Joseph Tapine, 5. Ken Tofilau, 6. Carlos Tuimavave, 7. Jaelen Feeney, 8. Damian Sironen, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Sam Mataora, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Jacob Saifiti, 13. Clint Newton (c). Bench: 14. George Ndaira, 15. Marvin Filipo, 16. Michael Steele, 17. Josh King, 27. Tama Koopu.
1. Omar Slaimankhel, 2. Chris Centrone, 3. Nathan Stapleton, 4. Nathan Smith, 5. Abraham Papalii, 6. Jono Ford, 7. Tyler Cornish, 8. Magnus Stromquist, 9. Mitch Williams (c), 10. Eloni Vunakece, 11. Leivaha Pulu, 12. Willie Manu, 13. Jack Siejka. Bench: 14. Brock Molan, 15. Shaun Boss, 16. Bennett Leslie, 17. Yileen Gordon.
After a thrilling finals series, it is the Newcastle Knights and Wyong Roos vying to be named the 2015 NSW Cup premiers.
In what has already been built as the most significant and anticipated game of the year, added excitement surrounds the local derby match between the two sides separated geographically by just a short trip on the M1.
“There’s always been that rivalry between Newcastle and Wyong which is fantastic,” NSW Cup Knights coach Matt Lantry said.
There’s plenty of history between the two sides, with the most recently written chapter for the Knights featuring two narrow Wyong defeats in Rounds 3 and 19.
But according to Lantry, important lessons have been learned reflecting on the last match against this weekend’s opponent.
“We made some poor errors that gave them the chance to come back into the game and score two tries late,” he said.
“For us, up until this year, we’ve won every game against Wyong.
“They have beaten us on both occasions, so there’s certainly some rivalry there, but all that is irrelevant come 4pm this Sunday.”
Lantry predicts the grand final clash to contain a physical confrontation through the middle third.
“They are a really experienced side and there a number of players who aren’t named in the side who we expect to come back in,” he said.
Casting an eye over Wyong’s team, Lantry warns of a number of competitors the Knights aim to keep under wraps.
“Mitch Williams out of dummy half will be handy, so we’ll need to make sure we’re controlling that ruck speed to ensure that we minimise his opportunities,” he said.
“I think fullback Omar (Slaimankhel) has been great for them. He’s handy on kick receptions and has nice footwork.
“He’s a danger every time he carries the footy.”
On the counter, the Knights will receive a boost from the return of Carlos Tuimavave while Jacob Saifiti was cleared to play after suffering an ankle injury in the preliminary final.
Lantry says the intensity and the emotion would be the two most significant differing factors to all previous game played throughout the season.
“The sooner you can settle down and get into the swing of things, and worry about the processes you need to go through as a team to get things right both offensively and defensively, you’ll give yourself every chance to be in the ball game for the full 80 minutes," he said.
After securing a spot in last year’s grand final against the Penrith Panthers and falling desperately close, from a motivational sense, Lantry believes the Knights will do all they can to not not experience the same disappointment.
He has made it his priority approaching Sunday’s big game to maintain the team’s routine, which has delivered exceptional results, particularly while preparing for sudden-death football.
The team will hold it’s final training run on Saturday in Newcastle before travelling to Pirtek Stadium in Parramatta on Sunday morning ready for kick off at 4pm.
“We’ll keep things nice and relaxed, which gives us every opportunity to start the game well,” he said.
“Momentum is very important in finals series. We have had to get here the hard way but we honestly think it’s been a benefit for us experiencing sudden death.
“All those things point in our favour to how we handle the occasion on Sunday.”
Where it will be won:
The middle third.
“The grand final match will no doubt be won in the middle third,” Lantry said.
“Rip Taylor (Wyong coach) style of coaching is go forward, leg speed and win the play the ball and create opportunities off the back of good go forward.
“Our line speed, first contact and tackle control is all important.
“If we can get that right and minimise our opportunities with the football, then we know we have points in us.
“There’s no doubting I have every belief within this playing group that they can get the job done on the weekend.”
The last word:
Captain Clint Newton spoke about how felt fortunate and excited he was for the opportunity to be a part of Sunday’s massive occasion.
So what’s the captain’s message for his teammates?
“It’s pretty simple, enjoy it,” he said.
“You don’t get opportunities like this, to play for a premiership all the time.”
Click here for the full story.
See the team train:
The NSW Cup Knights are training at Newcastle University Oval No.3 from 5pm on Thursday and on Saturday from 9.30am at Wests Mayfield, both sessions are open for Members and fans to attend.
Gates open at Pirtek Stadium at 11.20am with the NSW Cup grand final kicking off at 4.15pm following the Sydney Shield and Ron Massey Cup.
Adult tickets are just $10, with kids under 12 free. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets now.
Sid Fogg's is running a supporters bus to Pirtek Stadium. The bus departs from Hunter Stadium and will cost $40 per person return. Call 49281088 for more details.
For supporters catching the train South, trackwork between Wyong and Hornsby on Sunday will impact the train timetable. Please visit http://www.sydneytrains.info/ for more information.