Reserve Grade Preview: Round 24
Reserve Grade Newcastle Knights v Wyong Roos
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Date: Saturday August 20
Reserve Grade: 12.40pm
1. Dylan Phythian, 2. Ken Tofilau, 3. Ryan Walker, 4. Tom Hughes, 5. Bryce Donovan, 6. Jaelen Feeney, 7. Will Pearsall, 8. Uiti Baker, 9. Krys Freeman, 10. Jack Stockwell, 11. Ben Stone, 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. David Bhana. Interchange: 14. Kurt Aldridge, 15. Luke Yates, 16. Bradie Smith, 17. Sam Bernstrom.
1. Dominic Reardon, 5. Abraham Papalii, 4. Omar Slaimankhel, 3. Luke Garner, 2. C Centrone, 6. Joey Lussick, 7. Tyler Cornish, 8. Jake Lewis, 9. Mitchell Williams, 10. Eloni Vunakece, 11. Mitchell Frei, 12. Christopher Smith, 13. Zane Tetevano. Interchange: Brock Molan, 15. Matthew Ikuvalu, 16. Justin Toomey-White, 17. Pakisonasi Afu, 18. Carne Doyle-Manga, 19. Kauri Aupouri.
A local derby match will be played out at Hunter Stadium on Saturday between the Wyong Roos and Newcastle Knights in Round 24 of the Intrust Super Premiership.
Coach Matt Lantry acknowledges there’s always emotion tied up in the match-up between the traditional rivals, and with the teams' last hit-out in Round 9 seeing Wyong 28-6 winners, the Knights will be eager to get one back.
“You have the local rivalry between us,” he said.
Lantry points to a big game up front from Wyong who have bolstered their forward pack since last season.
“They are quality team there’s no doubting that and since their affiliation with the Roosters, they’ve really strengthened their stocks and have possessed some real physicality in their pack,” he said.
“With players like Zane Teteveno and Eloni Vunakece, they have some big guys and even have size in their back row with Mitch Frei who used to be here.
“Abraham Papalii also poses a threat out on the edge.
“It will be tough to contain the size of those guys, so their defensive attitude needs to be as good as what it can be for 80 minutes,” he said.
Although, Lantry says he has full confidence in the Knights’ forward pack and the players’ ability to slow the Roos.
“I thought Uiti Baker (prop) has been a massive improver and has come on in leaps and bounds from where he was at the start of the year and has worked really hard,” he said.
“He’s put some back-to-back games together that have been solid performances.
“His challenge is finishing the year really strong.
“Jack (Stockwell) speaks for himself with what he has achieved in the game and is good amongst our younger guys.
“Dave Bhana has also been another quality performer for us.”
Lantry continued to praise the efforts of the side’s part-time players who have consistently stepped up in their roles.
Meanwhile, the Reserve Grade Knights’ have ridden the high of their strong 62-26 win over the Manly Sea Eagles last weekend and look to capitalise on momentum built from that win.
“They have certainly taken some confidence away and it’s nice to see some smiles on their faces,” he said.
“To put on a nice performance against Manly was pleasing.
“What I really want to see the group do is play well again this weekend and that’s the challenge for them.
“We have challenged them consistently on their consistencies throughout their games.”
Where it will be won:
“I think it will come down to whoever defends well,” Lantry said.
“The sheer size and physicality they possess may allow them to start to gain the ascendancy through the middle third.
“Mitch Williams is a really good dummy half with really good speed out of nine.
“He can be a constant threat on the back of good go-forward.
“If we can minimise how they start their sets with good go-forward and then manage the middle period of the set from plays three to play five, we’ll give ourselves a chance.
“We need to do that over a big consistent period of the game.”