Reserve grade preview: Round 16
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v ILLAWARRA CUTTERS
Date: Saturday June 25
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Kick off: 12.40pm
1. Bryce Donovan, 2. Mao Uta, 3. Ryan Walker, 4. Pat Mata’utia, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Kurt Aldridge, 7. Jack Kelly, 8. Luke Yates, 9. Logan Harris, 10. Jack Stockwell, 11. Bradie Smith, 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 13. David Bhana. Interchange: 14. Ben Stone, 15. Tama Koopu, 16. Michael Steele, 17. Uiti Baker.
1. Adam Quinlan, 2. Tom Carr, 3. Taane Milne, 4. Levi Dodd, 5. Yaw Kiti Glymin, 6. Shaun Nona, 7. Drew Hutchison, 8. Shannon Wakeman, 9. Josh McCrone, 10. Hame Sele, 11. Tyrone McCarthy, 12. Chris Lewis, 13. Siliva Havili. Interchange: 14. Mitch Porter, 15. Jacob Hind, 16. Damian Sironen, 19. Blake Wallace, 20. Sam Coster.
After a heavy defeat to the Penrith Panthers last weekend, reserve grade coach Matt Lantry is looking for a big response this weekend.
“I just thought our effort was down in all areas on the day,” he explained.
“That’s really uncharacteristic of this team. Admittedly we haven’t won many games, but even when we’ve been beaten our effort has been pretty good.”
This week it doesn’t get much easier, with the side coming up against the fourth placed Illawarra Cutters at Hunter Stadium.
“They’ve got some quality players in their team and that’s why they’re sitting in the top four of the Intrust Super Premiership,” Lantry said.
“We’ve shown that we can compete, and at home we’ve got all three grades playing so if that’s not motivation enough to play well then I don’t know what would be.”
The Knights have seen numerous personnel changes over the last few rounds, but this week the likes of Akuila Uate, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and David Bhana will all be backing up to ensure some continuity amongst the experienced heads.
Lantry is looking for more from his big name players, and wants them to start against the Cutters.
“Those guys that are coming back from that full-time group or have played some NRL recently really need to do more,” he said.
“Their greatest challenge now is when they’re back playing reserve grade, they need to play good consistent footy and apply pressure on the guys at the top.
“We certainly need those guys to stand up week in, week out if we’re going to be competitive.”
One player that has had limited playing time in reserve grade but has impressed Lantry is Ryan Walker, who’s brother Cody is playing first grade for South Sydney this year.
Ryan Walker has played three games to date this season, and scored against the Panthers last weekend.
“He actually expressed an interest to us about three weeks ago whether there would be an opportunity to play NSW Cup,” Lantry explained.
“Someone of Ryan’s calibre you always want in and around your playing group, and we’re certainly grateful that the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs have allowed him to come and pursue an opportunity here.”
While Walker has been playing at centre for the Knights, he has plied his trade in the halves for Kurri Kurri.
That versatility is a big boon for the Knights, and could come in handy against the Cutters.
“He’s really serious about having a final crack at the highest level and seeing what we can get out of him,” Lantry said.
“It’s a big challenge this weekend.”
Where it will be won:
Making tackles stick.
“If we’re going to give ourselves a chance to be competitive in the game I think we really need to defend well,” Lantry said.
“In the past two weeks we’ve missed over a hundred individual tackles. And that’s just not good enough.”
The Cutters have plenty of players that can punch a hole in the line, so the Knights will have to be on their game.