Reserve grade Round 3 preview

Newcastle Knights v Mounties
Date: Saturday March 19
Kick off: 2.40pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
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Teams: 

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

1. Dylan Phythian, 2. Ken Tofilau, 3. Mao Uta, 4. James Elias, 5. Bryce Donovan, 6. Danny Kerr, 7. Will Pearsall, 8. Josh King, 9. Krys Freeman, 10. Tama Koopu, 11. Bradie Smith, 12. Tekina Vailea, 13. Luke Yates. Interchange: 14. Kurt Aldridge, 15. Brett Jarrett, 16. Michael Steele, 17. Uiti Baker.

MOUNTIES

1. Zac Santo, 2. Eddie Aiono, 3. Manaia Rudolph, 4. Sisa Waqa, 5. Kato Ottio, 6. Cameron Phelps, 7. Harry Siejka, 8. Luke Bateman, 9. Glen Buttriss, 10. Rhys Kennedy, 11. Jarrad Kennedy, 12. Mitch Barnett, 13. Joe Tapine. Interchange: 14. Sam Duggan. 15. Royce Hunt, 16. Clay Priest, 17. Steven Tavita, 23. Tepai Tepu-Smith.

Match analysis:

It’s always a big occasion when the reserve grade Knights are part of a three game fixture at Hunter Stadium, so the team is looking to leverage a win this weekend off the home ground advantage.

While the Knights are yet to post a win this season, the side is aware exactly what needs to occur on Saturday to get the upper hand on their opponent, the Mounties.

“Our decision making defensively and control of the ruck wasn’t where it needed to be,” coach Matt Lantry said about last weekend’s loss to the Newtown Jets. 

“At the moment we are learning the hard way, because we are consistently defending on the back foot, which means the forwards are able to lay a decent platform and it’s tough to defend. 

“I thought for 60 minutes of the game last week we weren’t good enough or where we need to be defensively. 

"Credit where credit is due, for a young group they showed character and fight and got themselves back to a score line that was a little more respectable at 28-20. 

“The only was to improve defensively is to work hard."

Preparation this week has centred around the players challenging each other physically in order to improve in a game situation. 

“The guys are working really hard. A lot of them have come out of the NYC system,” Lantry said. 

“A lot of this comes down to concentration and execution in the area and you need to be relentless. 

“They need to stay in the game for a longer period of time.” 

There’s been a number of forced changes to the Knights’ line up with Dylan Phythian coming in at fullback and Mao Uta and James Elias forming a new centre pairing.

“He’s a good young local kid who hopefully will give us a bit more spark out the back,” Lantry said about Phythian. 

“James (Elias) comes back off an ankle injury from the off season. 

“There is an opportunity to see Mao move a bit closer to the action so hopefully we can see him get a bit more ball and defend more individually.”

The opposition:

The reserve grade Knights brace for the Mounties' slick line-up. 

“They are a class outfit right across the park,” Lantry said. 

"Zac Santo, the fullback is lightening quick and Sisa Waqa has plenty of first grade games next to his name. 

“Their forward pack is led by their captain who has had a distinguished career in the NRL. 

“Mitch Barnett is a quality player, and throw Joe Tapine into the mix and it will be a decent challenge right across the park.”

Where it will be won: 

The middle. 

“For any side, it starts in the middle and the Mounties will look to lay a platform there,” he said. 

“They will look to give their quality outside backs an opportunity with the ball so we need to be tidy in that area. 

“Hopefully we can get our processes right after a long period of time and give ourselves a chance of coming out it front. 

“We need to have a better attitude consistently for 80 minutes in order to give ourselves a chance to do something with the footy.” 

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