Reserve grade preview: Round 11
Wests Tigers v Newcastle Knights
Date: Saturday May 21
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Kick off: 12.40pm
Referee: Jon Stone
Touch Judges: John Woods, Mathew Damaso
1. Watson Heleta 2. Josh Addo Carr 3. Ryland Jacobs. 4. Chance Peni, 5. Jayden Wheelhouse, 6. Jack Littlejohn, 7. Jeremy Marshall-King, 8. Dallas Graham, 9. Manaia Cherrington, 10. Jordan Grant, 11. Tyler Cassel, 12. Asipeli Fine ©, 13. Joel Edwards, 14. Esan Marsters, 15. Wesley Lolo, 16. Jackson Williams, 17. Matthew Eisenhuth, 18. John Tohi.
1. Bryce Donovan, 2. Ken Tofilau, 3. Henry Penn, 4. Braden Robson, 5. Matt Soper-Lawler 6. Jaelen Feeney 7. William Pearsall, 8. Josh King, 9. Joe Morris, 10. Uti Baker, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. David Bhana, 13. Luke Yates, 14. Ben Stone, 15. Sam Bernstrom, 16. Bradie Smith, 17. Tama Koopu, 18. Tyrone Amey.
The Newcastle Knights’ reserve grade team is eager to move on quickly from Sunday’s Illawarra Cutters trouncing and vows to make amends in Saturday’s Round 12 match.
The Knights back up to an equally challenging test against the Wests Tigers who have won the last three of their matches and sit at equal second on the competition table.
“We really need to respond this week,” coach Matt Lantry said.
“To be fair to our footy team, we have a lot of young guys, it’s not an excuse but we have been more than competitive in our first nine weeks of the competition.
“This weekend against the Cutters was the first time we’ve had a score line put on us when you walk away a bit embarrassed.
“We have certainly spoken about that in-house and I’d like to think we are going to see a team that performs well this weekend.”
Lantry says the Tigers boast decent players across the board meaning the Knights will need to bring their best to combat their skill.
“(Josh) Addo Carr is electric on the wing and is extremely quick. He has played a little bit of first grade already,” he said.
“Jack Littejohn is a decent half and Asipeli Fine was also in the NSW residents side.
“At the end of the day they are going to be tough but we are going to focus purely on us this weekend and certainly need to improve our area of defence.”
The reserve grade Knights have seen an unprecedented amount of youth in the side as players move between grades.
“I don’t think we’ve put the same team on the park from Round 1 to 11, so it’s hard to generate combinations and consistency in performance,” he said.
“All we are after is ensuring that, whoever takes the park on the weekend in the red and blue jumper, is that they compete really hard in every aspect of the game.
“Some young guys are going to get an opportunity and when you invest in youth, you’re going to get enthusiasm.
“There should be enough energy in the game to give ourselves a chance to play the way we like to both defensively and offensively."
Lantry looks to a number of players to continue to lead from the front, as they’ve done the last few rounds.
“Bryce Donovan has grown as a footballer and I thought his effort on the weekend, he tried enormously hard for the 80 minutes consistently,” he said.
“If we can take a leaf out of his book and everyone brings something to the table, we will see more effort.”
Meanwhile on the injury front, James Elias will be sidelined for an extended period of time after seriously injuring his knee in Sunday’s match.
“I really feel for him as he’s the heart and soul of our footy team and is a really good Cup player," he said.
“You know what you are going to get from him week in, week out.
“He’s certainly a loss for our team but (Braden) Robson comes in there. He’s a good young kid and a former Australian Schoolboy.
“We will be looking to him to play well on the weekend.”
Michael Steele has also been ruled out due to concussion.
Where it will be won:
“Solely focusing on ourselves is the key,” Lantry said.
“When we talk about that as a team we have to narrow it down to looking at ourselves in the mirror and knowing what we are going to bring to the team on the weekend.
“Hopefully that will contribute to a good performance.”