Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Jack Cogger work hard in defence against Wentworthville.

Reserve grade preview: Round 10

Illawarra Cutters v Newcastle Knights
Date: Sunday May 15
Venue: Hunter Stadium 
Kick off: 11.40am
Referee: Adam Cassidy
Touch Judges: Benjamin Teague, John Woods

Teams:

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS:

1. Bryce Donovan, 2. Ken Tofilau, 3. Henry Penn, 4. James Elias, 5. Tyme Dow-Nikau, 6. Dylan Phythian, 7. William Pearsall, 8. Josh King, 9. Joe Morris, 10. Luke Yates, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Bradie Smith, 13. David Bhana, 15. Tekina Vaelea, 16. Ben Stone, 17. Tama Koopu, 20. Uiti Baker, 24. Michael Steele.

ILLAWARRA CUTTERS:

1. Adam Quinlan, 2. Levi Dodd, 3. Taane Milne, 4. Kurt Mann, 5. Izaac Thompson, 6. Shaun Nona, 7. Drew Hutchison, 8. Shannon Wakeman, 9. Josh Mccrone, 10. Sebastine Ikahihifo, 11. Tyrone McCarthy, 12. Eric Newbigging, 13. Hame Sele, 14. Blake Wallace, 15. Jacob Hind, 16. Damian Sironen, 20. Sam Coster, 22. Chris Lewis.

Match analysis:

The reserve grade Newcastle Knights search desperately for consistency this weekend in a bid to ignite their 2016 season.

With all three grades playing at Hunter Stadium on Sunday and following on from a week’s break for the representative round, it seems there’s no better time for the team to secure a win against the Illawarra Cutters.

The Illawarra Cutters pose a threat to the Knights with considerable experience amongst their line-up.

“They have a really good team and strength across the park. They also have some really good depth this year,” coach Matt Lantry said.

“(Adam) Quinlan comes back from overseas and Taane Milne has recently been in their first grade side and is a great player."

Lantry was a member of the NSW Residents coaching staff last week and worked with the Cutters' five-eighth Shaun Nona during the representative camp.

“I got a little bit of an insight around Shaun and he’s very talented with the football,” he said.

With a unique understanding of the opposition’s dangers, Lantry says the Knights’ forwards will need to stand up in both attack and defence.

“We need to minimise the opportunities their halves have in trying to control that middle third,” he said.

“It’s a really decent challenge but a good benchmark for our guys to see where they are at individually and as a team.”

Knights’ winger Ken Tofilau returns with enthusiasm after representing with the Junior Kiwis on Saturday.

“That level of experience he gained is invaluable to him. I’m sure he’ll come back a better player because of it,” he said.

Meanwhile the Knights welcome Lachlan Fitzgibbon back from injury as well as David Bhana who is named at lock.

There’s also a new combination in the halves with Will Pearsall joining five-eighth Dylan Pythian who has found good form since the season’s

“It will be good for him to get some footy under his belt," he said Pearsall. 

“There’s a new little halves combination for us there. Phythian has been consistent for us in the number six jersey.

“Those three guys coming back into our team adds a little bit of starch going forward for the weekend.”

Lantry hopes the Round 10 match will inspire strong individual performances.

“The challenge is for them to not just put one good game together, it’s the back-to-back performances,” he said.

“We need to put a collective team performance together and that’s been our biggest issue in games.

“A lot of it comes back to a maturity thing and they are a really young team."

While the competition ladder may not reflect well for the Knights, Lantry is confident in the team’s ability to test teams.

“We have been in the game, but it’s little lapses in concentration that have been costly. 

“That’s when their mentality changes as players as they feel like they’re chasing points.

“The challenge for our group this week is to have a red-hot crack at playing consistently well in bigger blocks when they find where they are behind on the score board.”

Where it will be won:

Defence.

“I think we gave up too many soft tries against Wyong in the end before half time which put us behind the eight ball.

“I think our defence is vital this week and it’s about consistently defending well for the whole set until we get the ball back from kick reception.

“I’m confident we have some points in us, we just can’t be defending for the majority of the game because that burns too much petrol.”