Harold Matts preview: Qualifying final

Harold Matthews Cup – Qualifying Final

Newcastle Knights v Illawarra Steelers
Venue: Hammondville Oval
Date: Saturday April 15
Time: 12pm

SQUADS

Newcastle

1. Bradman Best, 2. Maile J Townsend, 3. Darcy Heaney, 4. Cooper Jenkins, 5. Patrick Achurch, 6. Max Buderus, 7. Kobe Davies, 8. Thomas Affleck, 9. Mitch Black, 10. Christian Ma’anaima, 11. Riley Meyn, 12. Harry Croker, 13. Jaron Purcell. Interchange: 14. Ryan Potts, 15. Tyler Doney, 16. Ben Olsen, 17. Sione Tuitupou Kutu, 18. Trentham Petersen.

Illawarra

1. Jack Walsh, 2. Hayden Sutton, 3. Matthew Feagai, 4. Max Feagai, 5. Kane Ball, 6. Zach Herring, 7. Jayden Sullivan, 8. Blake Dowel, 9. Connor Muhleisen, 10. Oliver Parrish, 11. Hamish Holland, 12. Duke Grant, 13. Oscar Fitzpatrick. Interchange: 15. Caleb Pearman, 16. Lucas Fletcher, 17. Carlin Deane, 18. Charlie Parrish, 19. Blake Osborne, 20. Lleyton Roach.

MATCH ANALYSIS

The Under 16s Newcastle Knights are big favourites to start their finals campaign off with a bang when they take on the fourth-placed Illawarra Steelers on Saturday.

Undefeated for the season and coming off a 52-6 thrashing of the Western Suburbs Magpies last weekend, the Knights head into finals footy with plenty of confidence.

As for Illawarra, they only suffered one loss to the Cronulla Sharks in the season and came up with a draw against the Sydney Roosters.

Preparation for both teams is difficult as the sides haven’t yet met with a short season of just nine games in the Harold Matthews Cup.

The Knights possess several attacking weapons and have scored the most points of any team this season with 364 points, but the Steelers just have the upper hand in their defensive efforts.

Illawarra had the second best defensive record for the season with only 104 points scored against them whilst Newcastle came in at third with 106 points scored against them.

But there is a wealth of talent in both sides with four players from the Knights and six players from Illawarra selected in the NSW Origin pathways squad.

It will definitely be a battle to watch with the winning side to be rewarded with a weekend off.