NYC match preview: Round 21

Newcastle Knights v St George Illawarra Dragons
Date: Saturday July 29
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 10.45am

Squads

Knights

1. Matt Cooper, 2. Mitch Andrews, 3. Cory Denniss, 4. Heath Gibbs, 5. Ofa Manuofetoa, 6. Jack Johns, 7. Hayden Loughrey, 8. Cameron King, 9. Tom Starling, 10. Viko Puliuvea, 11. Brodie Jones, 12. Sam McIntyre, 13. Zac Hosking. Interchange: 14. Kurtis Dark, 15. Henry Penn, 16. Will Finau, 17. Matt Croker. 18. Dylan Clarke, 19. Kyle Smith, 20. Jayden Butterfield, 21. Kainoa Gudgeon, 22. Nash Birch, 23. Will Davies.

Dragons

1.Steven Marsters, 2. Dane Francis, 3. Reuben Garrick, 4. Matheson Johns, 5. Jason Gillard, 6. Tristan Sailor, 7. Jackson Willis, 8. Stuart Mason, 9. Joe Lovodua, 10. Josh Dowel, 11. Trent Peoples, 12. Jackson Ford, 13. Brayden Gallagher. Interchange. 14. TJ Uele, 15. Tom Angel, 16. Elijah Hunt, 17. Hayden Lomax, 18. Bailey Dickinson, 19. Jack Cross, 20. Max Bailey, 21. Dylan Morris, 22. Vinnie Tikeri, 23. Cooper Purcell.

Match Analysis

NYC Newcastle Knights coach Todd Lowrie has rallied his troops to get back to their winning ways after a big loss last week saw the Under 20s drop to ninth on the ladder.

“That just shows how close it is,” said Lowrie.

“If we had won last week, we’d be sitting third or fourth but because we lost, we’re down to ninth so that just shows how important every game is.

“Especially this time of year when there’s not many games left and we can’t afford to be dropping games.”

After two losses and a draw, Lowrie is taking no chances against the St George Illawarra Dragons this Saturday, implementing a few changes in his starting side.

After making his long-awaited return from injury on the bench last week, forward Viko Puliuvea has been named to start in the front row.

“He was good for us at the start of the year and then he hurt his ankle and he was out for a long time,” explained Lowrie.

“He has had two or three games of local league and had his first game for us last weekend.

“He actually performed pretty strongly so hopefully he can come back in and try to do his best and get back to the form that he was showing at the start of the year.”

Hayden Loughrey will come back in at halfback.

“There are a couple of guys down on form a little bit and Hayden (Loughrey) is coming back into the halves and he has played there most of the year for us so no doubt he’ll do a good job,” Lowrie stated.

After an impressive first game for the Under 20s last week, SG Ball’s Ofa Manuofetoa will also return on the wing.

“He did get our Players’ Player, so he went well for his first game in and gets his chance to hold his spot,” said Lowrie.

The NYC coach maintains the Dragons, who are sitting second, will be a big challenge to overcome.

“We only played them a few weeks ago down in Kogarah and we put ourselves in a position to win that game and we blew it,” commented Lowrie.

“Hopefully we know we’re good enough to beat them and we’ve just got to come and play our best for the full 80 minutes and reverse the result from a couple of weeks ago.

Lowrie admits they need to focus on the basics.

“Our ball control, which is still not where it needs to be, and we’re putting in a little bit more focus on some of our defensive stuff this week," he said.

“We have had 40 points put on us two weeks in a row now so that’s something all the boys aren’t too proud of.”

Where it will be won

“The Dragons are really strong at carrying the ball and running hard so I think our ball control will be paramount,” stated the NYC coach.

“Teams that do carry the ball really well, like they do, are better off and go a long way to winning the game.

“We are in danger of missing the semi-finals so we’ll need to start putting some wins together.”