NYC match preview: Round 22

Newcastle Knights v New Zealand Warriors
Date: Saturday August 5
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 12.45pm

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. Nash Birch, 10. Pasami Saulo, 11. Brodie Jones, 12. Sam McIntyre, 13. Zac Hosking. Interchange: 14. Luke Huth, 15. Henry Penn, 16. Viko Puliuvea, 17. Matt Croker. 18. Eddy Tuilotolava, 19. Kyle Smith, 20. Jayden Butterfield, 21. Kainoa Gudgeon, 22. Kurtis Dark, 23. Dylan Clark.

Warriors

1.Lee Turner, 2. Paul Turner, 3. Melino Fineanganofo, 4. Dean Kouka-Smith, 5. Gibson Popoalii, 6. Kane Telea, 7. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 8. Troy Pulupaki, 9. Lewis Sio, 10. Tayhler Paora, 11. Tyler Slade, 12. Joe Vuna, 13. Chris Sio. Interchange. 14. Dylan Tavita, 15. Kelepi Lui, 16. Soane Hufunga, 17. Jerome Mamea, 18. Havi Tupouniua, 20. Isaiah Papali’I, 21. Elijah Sufia, 22. Sheldon Rogers, 23. Edward Mulitalo-Vaeua, 24. Mafoa’aeata Hingano.

Match Analysis

Influential forward Pasami Saulo has been missing from the side after his call up to Reserve Grade, but will this week return to the Under 20s much to the delight of coach Todd Lowrie.

“He was going really well for us for about a month or so and he certainly earned his call up,” said Lowrie.

“Pasami made the most of it and from all reports he has been doing really well, but it's good for us that he can come back and bring some of that experience that he’s had.”

Big forward Eddy Tuilotolava returns from injury to be named on the extended bench as well as SG Ball’s Luth Huth who again gets the number 14 jersey after an impressive NYC debut last week.

“Huthy went really well for his first game in the Under 20s and only being a little guy, he came on and performed really strongly,” commented Lowrie.

“He picked up our Players’ Player award so his teammates were pretty happy with how he went as well.

“It is what I was hoping and expecting from him so he gets to hold his spot on the bench.”

In Round 1, the Knights surprised the New Zealand Warriors with a 38-point thumping and will look to do the same on Saturday.

“They are a typical sort of Warriors team, they started the year not very well but they hit a real purple patch for a while and they were unstoppable,” explained Lowrie.

“They won a few games in a row and teams were finding it really hard to contain them.

“They have a hell of a lot of skill, hell of a lot of offload in them and they run the ball nice and hard so the boys will have to be prepared for quite a big physical challenge because that is what the Warriors bring.”

Positioned seventh on the ladder, Lowrie knows finals football is well within their reach with just five games left.

“We have got our destiny in our own hands and if we play well and win some games, we’ll be there,” said the Under 20s coach.

“Every game for us is important if we want to make the finals and also taking some good form to the finals so every game is pretty crucial for us at the moment.”

Where it will be won

The NYC coach knows it will be about matching the visitors physically.

“I think we will have to muscle up in defence and meet the physical challenge,” said Lowrie.

“Stopping some of their offloads is key but we’ll also need to hang onto the ball as much as we can and see how they can withstand some pressure.”

NYC kick-off at McDonald Jones Stadium at 12.45pm on Saturday.