Reserve Grade Preview: Round 15

Penrith Panthers v Newcastle Knights 
Date: Saturday June 18
Venue: Pepper Stadium
Kick off: 3pm 

Teams:

PENRITH PANTHERS

1. Dylan Edwards, 2. Josh Hall, 3. George Jennings, 4. Will Smith (c), 5. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 6. Zach Dockar-Clay, 7. Jamie Soward, 8. Andy Saunders, 9. James Segeyaro, 10. Viliame Kikau, 11. Corey Harawira-Naera, 12. Sione Katoa, 13. Tyrone May, 14. Brendan Attwood, 15. Ben Garcia, 16. Paea Pua, 17. Corey Waddell, 18. Oliver Clark.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

1. Bryce Donovan, 2. Mao Uta, 3. Ryan Walker, 4. Pat Mata’utia, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Kurt Aldridge, 7. Dylan Phythian, 8. Luke Yates, 9. Logan Harris, 10. Jack Stockwell, 11. Pauli Pauli, 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 13. David Bhana. Interchange: 14. Ben Stone, 15. Tama Koopu, 16. Bradie Smith, 17. Uiti Baker, 20. Michael Steele.

Match analysis:

The Reserve Grade Newcastle Knights prepare to play rivals the Penrith Panthers on Saturday in Round 15 of the Intrust Super Premiership competition at Pepper Stadium.

With plenty of history between the two sides, which includes back-to-back grand final match ups, the Knights are determined to make a good account of themselves in Penrith.

The Knights fell two points shy of the New Zealand Warriors last weekend at Hunter Stadium with the Panthers chasing their fourth-straight win to help secure their spot in the competition's top six.

While the Knights failed to record a much-needed victory, the team presented a quality brand of football and competed right until the final seconds of the game.

“I think its important we back up that performance from last week. We can’t just hang our hat on one performance,” coach Matt Lantry told Knights TV. 

“We need to make sure we are ready to play again.

“The Warriors are second on the competition ladder and fielded a really strong NRL experienced team.

“I thought we were a bit unlucky not to win the game and just didn’t manage that first 10 minutes after half time where we let two soft tries in and then chased our tail a little bit in the second half, but we showed plenty of character.

“If we can keep a consistent team on the park of similar quality, I’m sure we can upset a few more sides before the end of the year.”

The Knights have retained a number of players with first grade experience and have also named Akuila Uate on the wing.

“(Lachlan) Fitzgibbon, Pat Mata’utia and Dave Bhana remain with us and Aku (Uate) comes back," he said. 

“I’m looking forward to his (Uate’s) contribution to the team and it’s a real thrill for the young guys within our group to play with him also.

“We have Pauli Pauli back on the edge too so it will be interesting to see how he goes. He has a big frame and will be good to knock out some minutes with him."

Matching it up front with the Panthers is always important according to Lantry. 

“Generally they are a big physical side," he added. 

Meanwhile the Panthers' line-up bursts with NRL experience.

“James Segeyaro is back there (at hooker) and Jamie Soward, we will need to make sure we control the middle third because if we don’t, Segeyaro is really dangerous out of dummy half,” he said.

“Soward off the back of that bit of momentum can be dangerous as well.

“One thing we spoke about last week was backing our ability and not fearing failure or what may or may not happen, just having a go,” he said.

“We took a little bit of the shackles off the team last week and played a lot freer and backed our ability.

“We had a theme that if things break down, they broke down with us trying and I think that’s an important theme with a young team to carry on this week and ensure whatever we do as a team, we are all on board and playing our part.”

Where it will be won:

Completion.

“If we can complete well, I know it’s a cliché, but I think it’s vitally important for our team at the moment," Lantry said. 

"We need to get through our sets because over the first part of the year we haven’t absorbed pressure overly well.

“We haven’t been able to defend back to back sets so if we can minimise our opportunities where the team has back to back sets through completion of good discipline, I think that will certainly help us be competitive through out the 80 minutes.”