Reserve Grade match preview: Round 16

Illawarra Cutters v Newcastle Knights
Date: Sunday June 25
Venue: UOW Jubilee Oval
Kick off: 11.45am

Squads

Knights

1. Nick Meaney, 2. Tom Hughes, 3. Jacob Gagan, 4. Chanel Mata’utia, 5. Thomas Cronan, 6. Jack Cogger, 7. Trent Hodkinson, 8. Mickey Paea, 9. Tom Starling, 10. Sam Mataora, 11. Braden Smith, 12. Sam Stone, 13. Jack Stockwell. Interchange: 14. Will Pearsall, 15. Braden Robson, 16. Pat Mata’utia, 17. Pauli Pauli, 18. Faitotoa Faitotoa, 19. Joey Morris, 20. Tyrone Amey, 21. Sam Bernstrom.

Cutters

1. Matthew Dufty, 2. Kalifa Faifai Loa, 3. Reuben Garrick, 4. Patrick Herbert, 5. Izaac Thompson, 6. Jai Field, 7. Shaun Nona, 8. Josh Kerr, 9. Jake Marketo, 10. Blake Lawrie, 11. Will Matthews, 12. Luciano Leilua, 13. Tyrone McCarthy. Interchange. 14. Reece Robson, 16. Jacob Hind, 17. Rhys Kennedy, 18. Jesse Dee, 19. Mose Masoe, 20. Sam Clune, 21. John Tohi.

Match Analysis

The Reserve Grade Newcastle Knights will welcome back Chanel Mata’utia for their clash with the Illawarra Cutters at Kogarah this Sunday.

The utility back is set to return in the centres after battling back from a knee injury sustained in Round 10.

“It has been very frustrating for Chanel, hopefully he is over his injuries and he can put some games together,” said coach Simon Woolford.

“He needs to get back to some sort of fitness because he’s going to be a valuable addition to our team.”

Jack Cogger has spared no time making his way up the ranks, after two games with NYC he’s now earned a starting spot in the number six jersey for the ISP side.

“Coggs played NRL last year and did quite a good job and apart from round one he missed the next 12 weeks through with the hernia operation, so he’s had a couple of weeks back with the 20s,” explained Woolford.

“He is a big part of the club’s future so it is important to get him back up again playing against men and that’s what he’ll do this week.”

The ISP coach says the inclusion of Sam Stone in his forward pack could be beneficial.

“Sam has still got to jump through some hoops after he missed a few weeks due to injury.

“He is a young player that has played a lot of NRL this year, so it’s seeing whether he is ready to come back or if he needs another week off... but it would be handy if Sam took the field.”

The best player for the reserve grade side a couple of weeks ago, Jack Stockwell is back in the number 13.

“He went back up to NRL, had his injury concerns over the past few weeks and was a cut above when he played for us against the Mounties a couple of weeks ago,” explained Woolford.

“He can be a leader of our pack and hopefully he can replicate the performance he gave us a month ago.”

Big forward Pauli Pauli also continues to add impact off the bench.

“We'll see how many minutes he can punch out before we need to get him off,” said Woolford.

“He is another player that has had some NRL experience and probably a player that Browny (Nathan Brown) is looking to use at some stage this year.”

The Reserve Grade coach admits their last few performances have been disappointing, and he is looking for his players to inject some consistency into their game this week.

“If we can add consistency amongst the group, I know we can put some wins together and make something of this season,” Woolford said.

“We can’t keep talking about it, time is running out and we need to start doing it this week.”

Against the Cutters Woolford believes it won’t be an easy task.

“They have got a pretty good side, they’ve got a couple of front rowers that like to do a bit of damage if you don’t muscle up, they’ve got a couple of creative halves and their fullback goes quite well,” he explained.

“They have some talent right across the field but we just need to make sure we get our own backyard right and after we do that, there is no reason why we can’t start winning.”

Where it will be won

Defensive combinations seem to be the winning formula.

“Defensively we are doing a pretty good job, there are just some individual lapses at crucial times hurting us,” Woolford said.

“If we can get these players back in our side from injury, playing week in and week out, then we will only get better.

“The more we can get those combinations playing together, that will improve naturally.”