| You can watch the live stream of the match HERE. |
Newcastle Knights v Manly Sea Eagles
Venue: Leichhardt Oval
Date: Saturday May 6th
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, 19. Blake Layton, 20. Harry Whitfield, 23. Jack Jackson.
1. Albert Hopoate, 2. Armani Biddle, 3. Keegan Turner, 4. Ben Trbojevic, 5. Uluaki Tuipulotu, 6. Kaeo Weekes, 7. Daniel Ala, 8. F. Filimaua-Tau, 9. Jack Birt, 10. Alec Tuitavake, 11. Jacob Ratcliff, 12. Joshua Schuster, 13. Levi Moger. Interchange. 14. Luke Rolland, 15. Tyreece Matangi, 16. Viliami Fifita, 17. Angus O’Donnell, 18. Jai Vakai.
It was 20 years ago that the nib Newcastle Knights staged a comeback win against the Manly Sea Eagles in that memorable 1997 grand final.
Again, the Knights will match up with Manly in the decider but this time, the Under 16s junior side will strive for premiership honours.
“It is ironic, 20 years ago to this year it was the Knights v Manly in the NRL grand final,” said coach of the Knights Under 16s Mark Morrissey.
“It would have also been a 2001 relived grand final if we had played Parramatta (Eels) so we did watch both of them on the bus trip on the way down last week.”
Newcastle want to avenge their heartbreaking loss to the Eels in the decider last year, defeated 16-14 in a tough encounter.
The junior side is looking like the favourites leading into the big game, an undefeated run and a preliminary final 50-16 drubbing against the Canberra Raiders on the weekend.
“We didn’t really expect the score, that blowout like it did but we did work hard during the week, we did practice a lot on our plays and we didn’t take a step backwards during the game,” said Knights halfback Kobe Davies.
Already the Knights have claimed victory over the Sea Eagles this season which will be a confidence booster as they prepare for Saturday.
“In the pre-season we played them in the trial and it was very close but during the season we beat them,” said Davies.
“If we play the way we did in Round 4, keep to our structure, we should hopefully come away with the win but it is finals footy so who knows what will happen.
“We know what we have to do to get the win and we’re expecting them to be big and strong and we’ll have to be good in our defence and technique.”
The young halfback admits they’ll need to be wary of Manly’s middle men.
“They do have really big middles so our defence and technique will need to be very strong on the weekend,” claimed Davies.
“If we shut down their middles hopefully they won’t be able to get the ball out wide and if we do that hopefully we can get the win.”
Coach Morrissey says their opponents will also have strength at the back.
“(Albert) Hopoate at the back and their two edge boys are really big, with (Ben) Trbojevic, the younger Trbojevic on the edge and Josh Schuster their back rower, their captain, he’s a very big strong runner so we’ve just got to starve them of the football,” explained Morrissey.
He wants his players to control the match from the onset.
“We really need to hit the ground running, we talked about being strong from the start,” said Morrissey.
“I think it is always important if you start well at this age, it’s always a good mental thing for teams to start well.”
The Under 16s coach believes the Knights have the upper hand this weekend and can use that to their advantage.
“They will be more worried about us than us worried about them in regards to the back of their mind that we’ve had that victory over them,” he said.
“It is a new game obviously being a grand final but at the end of the day we have got that over them.”
Watching from the sidelines, Morrissey admits he’ll be harbouring a few nerves.
“At the end of the day whatever happens, happens but any coach deep down wants to win that grand final so I will be on the side of the chair for most of the game,” Morrissey laughed.