Reserve Grade Preview: Round 14
Newcastle Knights v New Zealand Warriors
Date: Saturday, June 11
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Kick off: 12.40pm
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1. Bryce Donovan, 2. Ken Tofilau, 3. Ryan Walker, 4. Mao Uta, 4. Matt Soper Lawler, 6. Kurt Aldridge, 7. Dylan Phythian, 8. Luke Yates, 9. Logan Harris, 10. Bradie Smith, 11. Jackson Hill, 12. Pat Mata’utia, 13. David Bhana. Interchange 14. Ben Stone, 15. Tama Koopu, 16. Michael Steel, 17. Uiti Baker.
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
1. Henare Wells, 2. Ken Maumalo, 3. Matthew Allwood, 4. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 5. Jonathan Wright, 6 Ata Hingano, 7 Jeff Robson, 8 James Gavet, 9 Jazz Tevaga, 10. Toafofoa Sipley, 11. John Palavi (c), 12 Shaun Lane, 13. Ligi Sao. Interchange: 14. Mason Lino, 15. Upu Poching, 16 Ali Lauitiiti, 17 James Bell, 18. Tomas Aoake.
A refreshed Reserve Grade Newcastle Knights side prepares to take on the New Zealand Warriors at Hunter Stadium for this weekend's Round 14 clash of the Intrust Super Premiership competition.
Last weekend’s scheduled match against the Manly Sea Eagles was postponed due to inclement weather at Brookvale Oval, so the Knights are raring to get back on the paddock as part of a three game fixture at the Club’s home ground.
“They are sitting at the top of the table for a reason,” coach Matt Lantry said about this weekend's opposition.
“They are just a big powerful team and once the play the ball speed gets quick, they have a really smart nine and good halves as well as quality outside backs that make the most of that."
In addition to the team’s hefty size, it features a great deal of first grade experience.
“With Ken Maumalo, Matthew Allwood, Jonathan Wright, Jeff Robson, Jazz Tevaga and even Ali Lauitiiti playing off the bench, there are a number of guys with NRL experience,” he said.
But the Knights plan to draw on knowledge from when they came up against the Warriors at Mount Smart Stadium in Round 7 when the Knights were defeated 26-6.
While not the desired outcome, Lantry said the team’s effort at the back end of the game was pleasing.
“It wasn’t a touch up, it was 16-0 at half time,” he said.
“We will certainly take some confidence from that second half performance.
With injury taking its toll on both the reserve grade and NRL Knights' squads, the reserve grade Knights are thankful to welcome a number of new faces to the red and blue.
One of those players is Ryan Walker who has been named in the centres.
Walker has recently played with the Newcastle Rebels and was coached by Lantry at Central Charlestown Rugby League Club in the local Newcastle competition in 2014.
“Ryan is a class act. He's very athletic and is a good defensive centre,’ he said.
“He’s aligned with Kurri Kurri this year. We are really appreciative of Kurri for giving him the opportunity to play at the highest level.
“They are really supportive.
“It’s a great opportunity for Ryan and we are in a position where we can throw him right in with limited outside backs with experience.”
In addition to Walker, Logan Harris, who hails from Redcliffe and has been playing in the Brisbane League, will appear at hooker.
“It’s a position we needed to gain some depth in with Joe Morris out for nine weeks with a thumb injury,” he said.
Meanwhile, forward Jackson Hill sourced a release from the Wyong Roos last week and will join the Knights in the back row.
New Zealand talent Mao Uta also returns from a lengthy injury.
“Around those players we have some young kids who will need to hold up their gloves and do a job for us,” he added.
Where it will be won:
With an experience-packed side like the New Zealand Warriors, the Knights will look to slow their opponent down through the middle and dish up a consistent performance from start to finish.
“We have to be committed to putting our body in front for 80-minutes this week,” coach Matt Lantry said.
The Knights partner with the Mark Hughes Foundation in Round 14’s three game fixture at Hunter Stadium. Supporters are encouraged to wear their beanie to the game to raise awareness for brain cancer.