Reserve grade preview: Round 7
New Zealand Warriors v Newcastle Knights
Date: Saturday April 16
Kick off: 12 noon (NZT)
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
1. Bryce Donovan, 2. Dean Kouka-Smith, 3. Henry Penn, 4. James Elias, 5. Tyme Dow-Nikau, 6. Jaelen Feeney, 7. Dylan Phythian, 8. Josh King, 9. Kurt Aldridge, 10. Mickey Paea, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Luke Yates, 13. Tekina Vailea. Interchange: 14. Danny Kerr, 15. Braide Smith, 16. Tama Koopu, 17. Uiti Baker, 19. Jamayne Toanoa-Brown.
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
1. Henare Wells, 2, Ken Maumalo, 3. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 4. Matthew Allwood, 5. Tomas Aoake, 6. Ata Hingano, 7. Mason Lino, 8. James Gavet, 9. Jazz Tevaga,10. Albert Vete, 11. Ali Lauitiiti, 12. Shaun Lane, 13. John Palavi. Interchange: 14. Viliami Kaveinga, 15. Toafofoa Sipley, 16. Sione Lousi, 17. James Bell, 18. Upu Poching.
The reserve grade Newcastle Knights’ main objective will be to capitalise on possession when the side takes on the New Zealand Warriors in Round 7 at Mount Smart Stadium.
While coach Matt Lantry saw plenty of promise from the side on Sunday, the Knights lost out to the Penrith Panthers at Hunter Stadium.
The Knights rolled out a gritty performance, and despite a relatively young line-up, made valuable improvements on the team’s previous efforts.
“Last week was a better performance, we needed a better response,” Lantry said.
“The effort was great against a quality Panthers outfit.
“To compete as well as what they did was really impressive.”
The Knights chased the Panthers on the scoreboard throughout but remained in the contest until the second stanza when a lack of possession thwarted progress.
“We just got in a period in that second half when we didn’t see the ball for more than 12 minutes and had two tries scored against us,” he said.
“The lesson for us is having that ability to defend for longer periods and hopefully come out the other side of that to give us an opportunity with the ball.
“If we get a fair share of possession this weekend I think what we did on the weekend against Penrith really gives us a platform to build on.”
Once again the Knights juggle movement amongst the ranks with an influx of emerging youngsters as well as in injection of experience up front.
“We had three players on debut. They performed really well and are back again this week,” he said.
After an NRL induction in the number one jersey, Jaelen Feeney returns to familiar territory in the halves in reserve grade.
“Bryce Donovan was tremendous at fullback last week,” he said.
The side will also benefit from the inclusion of prop Mickey Paea.
“Mickey will be a shining light there for us,” he said.
“We will look to him for a little bit of experience. It’s probably one thing our team lacks is a bit of experience being a young group.”
Turning attention to the Warriors, Lantry sees the side’s quality pack as their biggest strength.
“Ali Lauititi is 36-years old and is as good as anyone there. He’s had a fantastic NRL and Superleague career,” Lantry said.
“We need to execute a game plan that we can work and stay with for 80 minutes.
“Minimising errors is important against the Warriors. If they get a sniff, then they will build momentum and like to play on the front foot.
“If we can challenge them, go set for set and stay in the contest then hopefully we will give ourselves an opportunity.”
Where it will be won:
“A percentage of completed sets is paramount for us this weekend,” Lantry said.
"If you want to turn the ball over to the Warriors, whether it’s their back three bringing the ball back with foot work or the size of their two front rowers and back rowers, they will make it tough.
“They are quite a big team across the park and really take energy out of you if you are not getting through your sets, so defensively that’s a challenge.
“If we can go set for set and get in a real grind with the Warriors then that’s where we think it will benefit us.”
The Knights also hope to secure a win before a bye in Round 8.
“We haven’t had the greatest start to the season, not if we collect two points here and take two from the bye we can build on the back of that,” he added.
“What we need to see is an improved individual performance again.”