Jersey Flegg match preview: Round 4

St George Illawarra Dragons v Newcastle Knights

Date: Saturday, March 31
Kick-off: 1pm
Venue: Michael Cronin Oval

Team

1. Matt Cooper, 2. Lachlan Farr, 3. Brayden Musgrove, 4. Mitch Andrews, 5. Justin Worley, 6. Nash Birch, 7. Hayden Loughrey, 8. Pasami Saulo, 9. Tom Starling, 10. Jirah Momoisea, 11. Kurtis Dark, 12. Beau Fermor, 13. Brandon Russell. Interchange. 14. Tevita Alifa, 15. Henry-Siriah Fuimaono, 16. Luke Huth, 17. Matthew Croker, 18. Will Davies, 19. Joe Bromage.

With three wins in a row, Jersey Flegg coach Todd Lowrie doesn’t feel like he needed to change his winning formula when the Under 20s clash with the St George Illawarra Dragons on Saturday.

“When you’re winning, you don’t need to change the team too much,” Lowrie said.

But one change that he will be forced to make is in the custodian role with Matt Cooper set to be rested this week with a groin injury.

“Tex Hoy will play fullback for us so Cooper will have at least this week off,” explained Lowrie.

“Tex will come in and play his first game in the Under 20s.

“Cooper took an injury into the last game and he only just made it into that game because he pushed himself and got fit.

“Tex has played in the junior rep team throughout the grades so he’s certainly no stranger to the Knights.

“He played in the juniors and came up after the 18s competition last year and was part of our squad over the summer.

“He did really well in the trials and was unlucky to miss Round 1 but he gets his chance in Round 4, so I’m sure he’ll come in and do a good job for us.”

The Jersey Flegg coach has also been impressed with his new halves pairing this season of Hayden Loughrey and Nash Birch, describing them both as natural halves who he expects to continue their good work come Saturday.

“Hayden came to us as a fullback and played halves last year but his development from last year to this year has been fantastic and he’s really turned himself into a good little halfback,” admitted Lowrie.

“Nash is a hooker by trade so he’s playing in the halves for us and doing a really good job as well.

“Hayden hurt himself a little bit on the weekend, but he should be okay this week because he offers a lot to our team and both of those guys have been in good form which has helped us."

Like the Dragons first grade squad, which are currently on top of the NRL ladder, Lowrie expects the Under 20s side to be just as tough this weekend.

“They’re pretty good because generally the way it works is that if the first grade team are going okay, the Under 20s are going okay too,” explained the Under 20s coach.

“That’s certainly the case for the Dragons and they have won two and lost narrowly to the Cronulla Sharks, who are quite a good footy team, so we’re expecting a top quality game."

While the Knights look good on paper with three consecutive victories so far this season, Lowrie is adamant there is improvement needed in their game.

“We’re not judging ourselves on the wins we’ve had this season, we’re judging ourselves on whether we’re playing to our potential, because I don’t think we are and the players don’t think they are either,” he added.

“We spoke as a group and we’d like to keep improving… it’s only early in the season but the more we keep improving, hopefully we can play to our potential followed by a fair few more wins.