Newcastle Knights v St George Illawarra Dragons
Date: Saturday, May 26
Venue: Cessnock Sports Ground
1. Matt Cooper, 2. Garry Anderson, 3. Brayden Musgrove, 4. Ofa Manuofetoa, 5. Justin Worley, 6. Tex Hoy, 7. Nash Birch, 8. Matt Croker, 9. Matthew Moon, 10. Jirah Momoisea, 11. Kurtis Dark, 12. Brandon Russell, 13. Tevita Alifa. Interchange. 14. Ben Talty, 15. Joe Bromage, 16. Kye Hopwood, 17. Jack Cameron.
The season so far for the Newcastle Knights Jersey Flegg side couldn't be going any better, as they sit on the top of the table with eight wins from nine games.
Coach Todd Lowrie said they've been lucky to have a fairly stable outfit this year, and when new players do come into the side they're performing to a high standard.
"They're going well, and up until the last two weeks, we have had a pretty settled team which helps," added Lowrie.
"Every guy who has come in and had an opportunity; last week we had four guys making their Club debut or playing their first game for the 20s, that's quite a few for any one week and they did a really good job.
"To be sitting where we are at this time of the year is certainly a reward for a lot of hard work they have done, and we know there is a long time to go but we're pretty happy with where we are."
This week Matt Cooper comes back into the number one jersey, while Tex Hoy has been shuffled back to five-eighth with Nash Birch in halfback and Hayden Loughrey getting his opportunity in ISP.
"Coops has played with us for most of the year, he has had a couple of games in ISP but he's always done really well for us and he is good to have back in the team," Lowrie commented.
"Tex (Hoy) has also been going well so although it is not ideal to lose Hayden (Loughrey), who is our captain and our half, we're more than happy to put Tex in the halves and he's quite happy to play for us there as well."
Ben Talty also makes his first appearance for the Under 20s from the bench, while Tevita Alifa moves off the bench into the starting 13 with the loss of Beau Fermor to ISP.
"Ben has been part of our squad all year and he trained really well in the summer," said Lowrie.
"He's still only a year young and has been one of the guys on the brink, but with our backs they have been a little bit shuffled.
"Beau Fermor was 18th man about two weeks ago and just missed out, and with Sam Stone out with an injury, he'll get an opportunity and I'm sure he will do really well and show what he can do at that level."
Earlier this season the Knights travelled to Gerringong to play the Dragons and still managed to claim victory.
"We beat the Dragons at their home ground so that was a big trip and they'll certainly have that in the back of their minds and they'll be keen to come up here and perform well against us," said the Jersey Flegg coach.
"They're a pretty good team, they're sitting up towards the top of the ladder and they've certainly got some handy players, so they'll be keen to get one back against us.
"They've got a lot of strengths, they've got a lot of good attacking players and they're really hard to handle.
"Their outside backs are quite handy as well so they're a pretty fair outfit."
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