Reserve Grade match preview: Round 13
Newcastle Knights v New Zealand Warriors
Date: Saturday June 3
Venue: Cessnock Sports Ground
1. Nick Meaney, 2. Tom Hughes, 3. Brendan Elliot, 4. Jacob Gagan, 5. Thomas Cronan, 6. Will Pearsall, 7. Trent Hodkinson, 8. Mickey Paea, 9. Tom Starling, 10. Sam Mataora, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Pat Mata’utia, 13. Tyrone Amey. Interchange: 14. Braden Robson, 15. Bradie Smith, 16. Sam Bernstrom, 17. Pauli Pauli, 18. Joey Morris, 19. Faitotoa Faitotoa.
1. Zachary Santo, 2. C. Nicoll-Klokstad, 3. Fetalaiga Pauga, 4. Semisi Fotu, 22. Paulos Latu, 6. Mafoa’aeata Hingano, 7. Gustav Lino, 8. Toafofoa Sipley, 9. Samuel Cook, 10. Ligi Sao, 11. Ofahiki Ogden, 12. Isaiah Papalii, 13. James Bell. Interchange: 14. Jazz Tevaga, 15. Patrick Sipley, 16. Charlie Grubb, 17. Tevita Satae.
After several disruptions to the side in Round 11, Reserve Grade Newcastle Knights coach Simon Woolford is happy to see his line up back to some normality for their clash against the New Zealand Warriors this weekend.
“(Jacob) Gagan is back, he had an issue in the Mounties game and with the bye he has only missed one so he seems ready to go,” explained Woolford.
“We were short on troops against the (Penrith) Panthers and it will be nice to get a few back.”
A welcome inclusion is also forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon, back after injury.
“Fitzy has been one of our most consistent players all year,” said Woolford.
“He got his opportunity with NRL and played really well, but wasn’t quite right with his knee against the Panthers.
“If we have him back from the NRL squad, which he’s named in the 21, he’ll certainly enhance our chances of a result.”
Will Pearsall and Trent Hodkinson continue to gather form as an intimidating duo in the halves.
“The more games they play together the more it is going to benefit them as a combination,” Woolford stated.
“The last couple of games they have played together, they’ve started to look good and complement each other pretty well so it’s good to have them both back in the side this week.”
The ISP coach is hopeful fullback Nick Meaney will be able to back up after his debut for the Blues in the Under 20s Origin clash against Queensland on Wednesday night.
“It will be up to Means, as long as he pulls up okay,” explained Woolford.
“He is only young so we don’t want to push him if he’s not right.
“If he wants to play, he’ll take his place at fullback... so fingers crossed he plays well and he gets through.”
Last time they met, the Warriors stunned the Knights with 42 points in the first half but with a pretty good record against top teams, Woolford is confident they will be back to their best.
“We are at home so there is no excuse,” he said.
“We need to put in a good performance defensively, there is no reason why we shouldn’t play well this week.
“We did against Mounties and we obviously had a good win against the Panthers but we’re a different team to when we met these guys in Round 1.
“We have every reason to play well so I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t do a good job.”
Where it will be won
The ISP coach admits the opposition are a typical Warriors team.
"They are big, strong and mobile so we have to match them physically first,” commented Woolford.
“If we can do that, control the footy and starve them of a bit of possession then that’s how we’ll go about breaking them down and getting the result.”