NYC match preview: Round 26

Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks
Date: Sunday September 3
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 11.45am

Squads

Knights

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

Sharks

1.William Kennedy, 2. Sione Katoa, 3. Isaac Lumelume, 4. Jesse Ramien, 5. Josh Tuilagi, 6. Luke Metcalf, 7. Kyle Flanagan, 8. Ryan King, 9. Blayke Brailey, 10. Daniel Vasquez, 11. Briton Nikora, 12. Joshua Carr, 13. Billy Magoulias. Interchange. 14. Eddie Faalua, 15. Zachary Faulkner, 16. Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga, 17. James Roumanos, 18. Jackson Ferris, 19. Teig Wilton, 20. Lane Ferling, 21. Luke Jurd, 22. Fine Kula, 23. Clayton Uia.

Match Analysis

It's a must win game for the NYC Newcastle Knights this week as their finals chances hang in the balance.

“Out of Manly, South Sydney or Brisbane, if one of those lose and we win then we’ll play in the semis,” explained coach Todd Lowrie.

“We need one of those games to go our way.

“We will know before Sunday the results of those other games so we will go into the game knowing whether we’re out or if we win, we’re in.”

It won’t be an easy task with the Sharks enjoying a 15-game winning streak before their close loss to the Sydney Roosters last week.

The Under 20s coach said while they may be the favourites on paper, their record this season doesn’t matter too much come this time of the year.

“They got beaten by the Roosters last week who are not going to make the semis so that just shows any team is beatable on the day,” Lowrie commented.

“What they’ve done throughout the year doesn’t really mean anything as of this weekend.

“We have certainly got a lot to play for and I think if we stick to our game plan and everyone does their job and plays to their potential, we’re certainly a good chance of beating them and making the semis.”

The NYC side will have to do without forward Brodie Jones again, who has been named in the starting 13 for Reserve Grade to play their elimination final this week.

With a few changes in the forward pack, Lowrie is confident his regulars can do the job.

“Fortunately for us we don’t have to bring in anyone that hasn’t played," he said.

“The guys have trained really well so we shouldn’t lose too much.

“(Brayden) Musgrove is also well in the mix this weekend after a really long stint in rehab with his back but he’s done the right thing and had a couple of games back in local league.”

While the Sharks are strong all over the field, there will be a few key areas Lowrie believes will be their most dangerous.

“They have big, strong outside backs who are quite hard to handle so we’ve done a bit of work on controlling their starts," he said.

“Halfback, Kyle Flanagan, I think he is the leading try scorer or has scored the most points ever in the history of the NYC season so he’s certainly dangerous when he runs the ball.

“Our goal line defence is going to have to be really good this week and our ball control."

Where it will be won

“The more we can hold onto the ball, that is certainly where I think it can be won,” added Lowrie.

“If we get our defence right and in attack we hold onto the ball and execute our plays well, that will put us in good stead because we have a lot of blokes that can attack.

“There is also certainly a lot of motivation in front of the Old Boys.

“We will appreciate playing at home in the last game of the year for Old Boys Day.”

NYC kick-off at 11.45am at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.