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Reserve Grade match preview: Round 6

Date: Saturday, April 14
Location: Cessnock Sportsground
Time: 3pm


1. Thomas Cronan, 2. Tom Hughes, 3. Jacob Gagai, 4. Cory Denniss, 5. Mitch Andrews, 6. Christian Hazard, 7. Jack Cogger, 8. Josh King, 9. Chris Randall, 10. Pasami Saulo, 11. Sam Stone, 12. Tori Freeman-Quay, 13. Luke Yates. Interchange: 14. Faitotoa Faitotoa, 15. Junior Roqica, 16. Tyrone Amey, 17. Pat Mata’utia, 18. Tom Starling, 19. Bobby Treacy, 20. Daniel Peck.

It’s hasn’t been a great start to the season for the nib Newcastle Knights Reserve Grade side, which has slumped to the bottom of the ladder following a Round 5 loss to the North Sydney Bears.

Coach Simon Woolford admits it’s been a tough couple of weeks, and it’s only going to get harder.

“It’s been hard yakka the last couple of weeks and most games we’ve shown some glimpses, but last weekend I thought was a poor effort,” Woolford stated.

“It was the worst we’ve played all year… ill-discipline early in the game allowed a young, enthusiastic team to get a jump on us and we weren’t good enough to haul them back.

“It’s certainly not getting any easier and we have lost some experience, but the good thing about giving new guys a crack is they’ll be keen and eager to do well."

This week against the Newtown Jets Woolford expects a newly formed side to challenge them on the park.

“We beat them once, they beat us once last year and they missed the finals, but they’re much improved this year,” he said.

“Cronulla's Under 20s broke all sorts of records last year and a lot of them have come up to Newtown ISP so they’re a different team and it’s going to be hard work for us.”

The ISP coach is hoping some movements in his side will make all the difference, starting with Brent Naden out due to injury.

“Brent is going to miss a week or two with a quad injury which he took into the game, so bit of a reshuffle and Tom Cronan goes back to fullback where he played a lot of his junior years,” explained Woolford.

“Mitch Andrews gets his chance after playing well in the Jersey Flegg competition, so we thought he deserved a chance.

“Pasami played the start of the year for us and had to sort out a few areas of his game back in the Under 20s, which hopefully he’s done, and through injuries and NRL guys taking a couple of extras to Melbourne, Pasami gets his chance again.”

Newcomer Tori Freeman-Quay has also taken a starting spot in the forward pack.

“Tori came up from Canberra and I think he was Country Player of the Year last year in the Under 23s Country team,” Woolford said.

“He played really well against Samoa and Scotland... he’s done a full pre-season with our part timers and I’ve been keen to get Tori a game.

“He’s trained well and played well in those big games last year, so I expect him to do a really good job for us.”