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Reserve Grade match preview: Round 12

Newcastle Knights v St George Illawarra Dragons

Date: Sunday, May 27
Location: Beanie for Brain Cancer Stadium
Time: 11.45am


1. Nick Meaney, 2. Tom Hughes, 3. Matt Allwood, 4. Cory Denniss, 5. Brent Naden, 6. Jack Johns, 7. Hayden Loughrey, 8. Tyrone Amey, 9. Chris Randall, 10. Bobby Treacy, 11. Beau Fermor, 12. Brodie Jones, 13. Luke Yates. Interchange: 14. Tom Starling, 15. Pasami Saulo, 16. Pat Mata'utia, 17. Zac Hosking, 18. Tori Freeman-Quay, 19. Faitotoa Faitotoa.

The Newcastle Knights ISP side will be bolstered by the return of fullback Nick Meaney, who has been out with an ankle injury which he suffered in Round 1.

Coach Rory Kostjasyn said he's looking forward to seeing the custodian get back out on the field to make some impact.

"Means is a great player, I'm looking forward to seeing him play some footy after an extended break and I'm sure he's very keen to get out there and have some fun," Kostjasyn commented.

"With Means back, him and Nado (Brent Naden) might share that role a little bit because Means may be a little bit underdone in terms of match fitness, and at this stage that's probably the plan."

With the absence of Sam Stone due to injury, Beau Fermor has been named in the starting 13.

Promoted from the Under 20s, Fermor gets his chance to make his ISP debut.

"Beau was pretty close to playing a couple of weeks ago when the 20s had their break, he's been playing really good footy this year so it's nice for him to get an opportunity at the next level up," Kostjasyn said.

With the shuffling around of halves at top level, Jack Cogger has again gone up to NRL which will give young Knight Hayden Loughrey a chance to make his mark in the halves alongside Jack Johns.

"My first game as coach, Hayden (Loughrey) played in the halves and played really well and we had a draw that game," he explained.

"With Coggs (Jack Cogger) going up, Hayden gets another opportunity and I'm looking forward to seeing him play again with Jack (Johns)."

The ISP coach admits it's been hard to get some consistency in the halves with players being in and out of the side due to injuries and form, but that's the way Reserve Grade goes.

"It is hard, but that's part of ISP, we've just got to roll with the punches because sometimes you're not sure who is playing until game day," Kostjasyn explained.

"Sometimes you might have the same team for three weeks, other times you won't have the same halves pairing for many weeks, so you've just got to roll with it and go out there and do your job."

With a season that hasn't seen the best results thus far, Kostjasyn knows defensively they will need to improve this weekend with the Dragons known for their ball playing ability.

"Since I've been coaching, this team has probably moved the ball the best of any of the teams we've played in the last three weeks," Kostjasyn stated.

"They move the footy from side to side and they have some quite strong ball carriers on their edges so defensively it's going to be a big task."

And being Beanie for Brain Cancer Round, it will be a big occasion with a two-game fixture on Sunday and Kostjasyn says it's great to be back at home and on the big stage once again.

"Obviously being Beanie for Brain Cancer Round, we're expecting a good crowd on Sunday afternoon and I'm excited for the boys to play before first grade... It's just nice to be back at home after a few away trips," he said.

The Knights take on the Dragons at Beanie for Brain Cancer Stadium on Sunday, kick-off is 11.45am.