Reserve Grade match preview: Round 25

Wyong Roos v Newcastle Knights
Date: Saturday August 26
Venue: Morry Breen Oval
Kick-off: 3pm

Squads

Newcastle

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

Wyong

1.Luke Sharpe, 2. John Tuivasa-Sheck, 21. Joseph Manu, 4. Matthew Ikuvalu, 5. Christopher Centrone, 6. Jayden Nikorima, 7. Mitchell Cornish, 14. Eloni Vunakece, 9. Mitchell Williams, 18. Lindsay Collins, 11. Brock Gray, 12. Justin Toomey-White, 22. Nat Butcher. Interchange. 3. Paul Momirovski, 8. Jake Lewis, 10. Christopher Smith, 16. Poasa Faamausili.

Match Analysis

The Reserve Grade Newcastle Knights will have a mountain to climb against the minor premiers, the Wyong Roos, on Saturday but thankfully they have already sealed their spot in the semi-finals.

The wing will again see a change with Tom Hughes spending one more week on the sidelines and Tom Cronan also resting up with an injury.

“Tom Hughes probably could have played this week but with hamstring injuries we’re better off going an extra week and making sure we’re right for the semi-finals,” explained coach Simon Woolford.

“Tom Cronan has a shoulder problem so he needs the week off and hopefully he’ll be right for the semi-final but Bryce (Donovan) deserves his chance.

“He played pretty well mid-year but had to drop back because blokes dropped back from NRL so he gets another chance this week which is good for him.”

With an NRL injury, Jack Cogger has been promoted to first grade which sees utility Will Pearsall step back into the halfback role.

“Unfortunately for (Brock) Lamby he is out for the year and Jack Cogger goes up,” said Woolford.

“Will Pearsall played a lot for us in the halves early in the year and when we won three in a row, he was instrumental in those wins.

“We have given him a go at hooker over the last few months so I am confident Will can do the job and he’ll slot straight back in.”

The ISP side will also get back one of their big men in the middle.

“Jack Stockwell is back this week, he’s had a poor run with injury and has got a couple of full weeks of training under his belt,” stated Woolford.

“He wants to finish off the year on a positive note so he trained really well this week and when he comes ready to play, he is a very damaging front rower and can do a good job for us so I am looking forward to seeing him.”

The ISP coach said a couple of NYC regulars will again fill out their forward pack.

“Pasami (Saulo) and Tom (Starling) have done a good job for us,” Woolford commented.

“There are quite a few injuries to the Club at the moment and these guys have been given an opportunity and played really well so they deserve to hold their spot.

Woolford is under no illusions their final round will be a difficult one.

“They are a pretty good side, obviously being a feeder club to the Roosters,” he explained.

“They have had a strong team particularly early and won a lot of games and although their form hasn’t been quite as it was in the last five to six weeks, they’re starting to get some players like Mitch Cornish trickle back from NRL.

“It is important we put in a good performance with the final round leading into the semis.”

Where it will be won

“Last couple of weeks we have let ourselves down defensively and let 30 points in the week before which wasn’t up to the standard,” said the Reserve Grade coach.

“We need to sort that out and we have one more game left before the semi-final to get our defence right.

“We need to make sure we don’t leek soft tries so defence will be a real focus.”

Reserve Grade take on their last home and away match against the Wyong Roos at Morry Breen Oval on Saturday. Kick-off is at 3pm.