Reserve Grade match preview: Round 23

Mounties v Newcastle Knights
Date: Saturday August 12
Venue: Aubrey Keech Reserve
Kick-off: 3pm

Squads

Newcastle

1. Nick Meaney, 2. Tom Hughes, 3. Brendan Elliot, 4. Jacob Gagan, 5. Chanel Mata’utia, 6. Jaelen Feeney, 7. Jack Cogger, 8. Mickey Paea, 9. Will Pearsall, 10. Pasami Saulo, 11. Bradie Smith, 12. Braden Robson, 13. Tyrone Amey. Interchange: 14. Tom Starling, 15. Faitotoa Faitotoa, 16. Pat Mata’utia, 17. Thomas Cronan, 18. Joey Morris, 19. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, 20. Sam Bernstrom.

Mounties

1.Dominic Reardon, 2. Alofi Mataele, 3. Edward Aiono, 4. Brent Naden, 5. Kato Ottio, 6. Lachlan Croker, 7. Isaac John, 8. Royce Hunt, 9. Glen Buttriss, 10. Liam Knight, 11. Jack Murchie, 12. Scott Sorensen, 13. William Cullen. Interchange. 14. Sam Duggan, 15. Alec Susino, 16. Makahesi Makatoa, 17. Jack Nelson, 18. Yileen Gordon.

Match Analysis

The Reserve Grade Newcastle Knights have had a week off with the bye and will be looking to get back on the winners list after two disappointing losses of just two points each.

Chanel Mata’utia got the call up to NRL in Round 18 and has been enjoying his time in first grade, but this week will be a handy inclusion on the wing for Reserve Grade.

“Chanel has had his opportunity in first grade and he’s played pretty well there so we’d expect him to come back and be one of our better performers,” explained ISP coach Simon Woolford.

“He has been able to string some games together now so his fitness should be getting back to where it needs to be and hopefully he can do a good job for us.”

The forward pack will see a bit of movement with NYC’s Pasami Saulo getting the start in the number 10 jersey.

“Pasami gets his first run on start so his season has been building nicely and he’s had a couple of good performances for us,” stated Woolford.

“He got to go back last week and played really well in the 20s when we had the bye.

“It is a bit of the old and the new, Mickey Paea will be on one side and Pasami on the other so hopefully they can get us off to a good start and get us going forward early.

“Will (Pearsall) did a good job for us starting at hooker last game against Illawarra so Tom Starling will come off the bench and give us a bit of lift around the middle.

“That worked well for us, we’ll keep that combination going.”

Woolford admits the bye came at a bitter sweet time and he now wants his men to get on with the job of putting more points to their name.

“It has been two losses in a row now so in a way the bye came at a good time but in a way, we would have liked to keep playing because of those two disappointing losses,” he said.

“We have done some hard work and had a few days off so hopefully everyone comes back refreshed.

“We need to prepare well and we need to get some results because we’ve come a long way since the start of the year and we want to finish the season off well and hopefully play some semi-finals.”

The Knights may have got one over Mounties last time they met with a win in Round 10, but the ISP coach admits the Raiders feeder team have good talent all over the park.

“Some strong middles, they’ve got some outside backs that can score some tries but first and foremost they’ve got guys like Royce Hunt and Liam Knight in the forwards,” commented Woolford.

“We are going to have to combat that and it’s a big job for our starting pack but as long as we can win the battle up front, I’m confident we can score enough points.”

Where it will be won

As highlighted, the middle is where Woolford believes the game will be decided.

“They have a strong middle,” added Woolford.

“Their forwards around the middle of the park are big and they run hard so we need to make sure we do a good job on them.

“When we’ve got the ball, we need to make them work hard so if we can do that, I’m confident we’ve got enough points in us.”