Knights v Mounties: Winless Defending Premiers Go Home For Mounties
Hunter Stadium, Saturday 19 March, 2:40pm
Watch LIVE on FOX Sports on Channel 501
It’s been a tough start for the defending premiers, Newcastle Knights, having dropped both games so far, as they face a tough task against the side they eliminated in last year’s preliminary final on their way to the title – Mounties.
Although Mounties were bitterly disappointed not to consolidate their 2015 minor premiership with grand final success, coach Steve Antonelli states there is no motivation of revenge.
“I got a whole new squad there this year so it doesn’t mean too much,” Antonelli told NSWRL.com.au. “It’s more about the week-to-week thing with us and getting up and ready to play each week. The boys are pushing for the NRL, so they need to be at their best every week no matter who we’re playing. It’s not too much revenge – it’s about being at your best really, isn’t it?”
Antonelli is more determined to overturn last week’s narrow 24-18 loss against the Wyong Roos that came down to goal kicking.
“It’s no different for us to any other week preparation wise. [It’s] more about the little one percenters – that was our biggest problem last weekend. [We need] a little more discipline with the ball. There’s not too much to fix, just need individuals to fix discipline up. We had 15 errors and nine of them were (in the) outside backs.
“Defensively, we’re really solid. We can defend anything but if you don’t have the ball, you don’t win.”
The Knights effectively lost last weekend’s match on their own, trailing 28-6 with 20 minutes remaining but rallied to fall by a respectable 28-20 scoreline in a slight positive to draw for coach Matt Lantry.
While Newcastle enjoy the benefit of playing at Hunter Stadium before the first-grade side, their chances of victory will take a major hit with Mitch Barnett making a potential return after a late injury ruled him out last weekend for Mounties.
“I’ve named him again this week,” Antonelli said. “We’re not sure where we’re at with him. It’ll be good for us if is he in there because he’s really damaging on the left-hand edge. We’ll see where we’re at (for the next day) with him and whether he’s in or out.”
Manly v Canterbury: Hero Holland Returns For Crucial Bulldogs Clash
Belmore Oval, Saturday 19 March, 2:00pm
Listen LIVE via Steele Sports Radio at www.steelesports.com.au
Celebrating an unforgettable NRL debut in heroically kicking the game-winning conversion after the final siren for the Canterbury Bulldogs to defeat the Penrith Panthers, Kerrod Holland returns to the Bulldogs Intrust Super Premiership NSW side this week to take on the Manly Sea Eagles.
Named the the 2015 Centre Of The Year as part of the Newcastle Knights' historic premiership success, Holland’s much-publicised self-assurance could be the boost the Bulldogs need in a pivotal contest against Manly with both sides yet to taste victory this season.
“He’s (Holland) obviously full of confidence – he’s a confident kid,” Bulldogs coach Andy Patmore told NSWRL.com.au.
“He’s just unlucky. To have a great game like that and with Chase Stanley and a few others coming back, he’s unluckily back with us but that’s the way it is. He’ll certainly bring that confidence and that big smile, he’ll bring that back to us as well. Hopefully, it’ll be good for us.”
After their Round 1 draw with the Newtown Jets, Canterbury struggled in a 38-12 loss to the Illawarra Cutters last weekend.
“We weren’t good last week – we were pretty disappointing in parts of the game,” Patmore said. “The boys have decided they’re going to work a bit harder this week. Hopefully we’re a bit better prepared.”
Meanwhile, the Sea Eagles have stumbled in their season start with straight losses to Wests Tigers and a bitter 28-0 thumping against the Wentworthville Magpies. However, Patmore remains on guard after the Bulldogs dropped both of their games to Manly last season.
“On paper they’re very good,” Patmore said. “They’ve got some regular first-graders back there. It’s always tough, obviously with their first-grade squad having a couple of losses too, I’m sure a lot of their second-graders have something to prove – they’re obviously fighting for spots, so it will be tough.”
Tim Moltzen, Feleti Mateo, Luke Burgess and Darcy Lussick feature for a Manly side that the Bulldogs have to be prepared for.
“It’s certainly a cliché but we’ll certainly work hard on ourselves but we’ll have a good look at Manly,” Patmore said. “They’ve got some ball players, so we need to be really aware of their passing game.”
Penrith v Wentworthville: Rising Panthers Tackle Hot Pies
Pepper Stadium, Saturday 19 March, 2:50pm
A confident Penrith Panthers outfit take on the unbeaten Wentworthville Magpies in an electric early-season matchup in Round 3.
Boasting an impressive 42-10 triumph over the North Sydney Bears last weekend, the Panthers enter the anticipated clash with plenty of belief, inspired by the club’s NYC under-20s premiership success in 2015, with several of the squad comprising the Intrust Super Premiership NSW side.
“Ever since I’ve coached at Penrith, the lower grades have always been quite successful,” Panthers coach Steve Georgallis told NSWRL.com.au. “They’ve grown up together and played footy together, so they’re used to winning. They breed that confidence when they go into games.
“We’ve got a lot of young players that came from the under-20s team last year that are learning about the next step up. Just getting their combinations going, understanding the difference now they’re playing against grown men and the difference between that and the under-20s competition.
“They’ve got to get all the little things right – that was the most pleasing thing from last week. They’re understanding of the next step up.”
Last week’s 32-point win is a promising glimpse of the future for Penrith and Georgallis confirms it’s an indication of what the side is capable of this season as long as injuries aren’t a factor.
“It all depends on the injuries to first grade. We’ve got a few now so there’ll be a few changes this week. I think everyone’s in that position where if first grade doesn’t have too many injuries you get combinations going, but it is an indication where we could finish if everyone’s available.”
Penrith run into a firing Wenty side that shutout the Manly Sea Eagles 28-0 last week. It’ll be a stern test for the Panthers without Will Smith who is on first-grade duties this week. However, the Magpies will be without their own star performer.
“They had Isaac De Gois who goes up (to the Parramatta Eels NRL side) so they’ve lost their first-grade hooker around the ruck which is a big loss to them – just as it would be for us if we lost a player of that calibre,” Georgallis said.
“Obviously, we’re going to run into a pretty hot team which will give us an understanding of where we’re at. How we’re going to combat that is by playing together and building on the last two weeks. We only lost to Mounties (in Round 1) by two points at the end and last week was a good win for us.
“Looking at the competition, they’re (Wenty) the form team at the moment – only after two rounds though.”
Illawara v North Sydney: Bears Have Point To Prove Against Fast-Start Cutters
WIN Stadium, Saturday 19 March, 3:00pm
Listen LIVE via Steele Sports Radio at www.steelesports.com.au
It’s only Round 3 but the Illawarra Cutters have jumped out of the gates with two impressive victories, winning 36-22 over the Warriors and 38-12 over the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The North Sydney Bears face a tough task taking on the Cutters at WIN Stadium but are desperate to overturn a crushing 42-10 defeat at the hands of the Penrith Panthers last weekend, with coach Ben Gardiner making several changes to the team lineup.
“We obviously had a fairly difficult round last week against a really good side but one thing we don’t accept at our club is poor performance and guys not turning up to play the way we expect them to,” Gardiner told NSWRL.com.au.
“Leading into this match you can see from the team list we have made some changes and adjustments to our line up – that’s a message to our players that we have high standards at the Bears and we no longer accept below-par performances.”
While Illawarra possess the likes of Shannon Wakeman, Josh McCrone, Shaun Nona, Adam Quinlan and Drew Hutchison, North Sydney recognise while they are a young side, they need to make up for it with enthusiasm and hustle.
“We know the Cutters are a good team with a lot of experience in their side,” Gardiner said. “For us, we need to make sure we get out there and play our game right this weekend.
“We’ve brought some youth and exuberance into the side. One thing we don’t have as a team is experience. When you don’t have experience, one of the best ways to approach the game is with energy and that’s my coaching style – I coach the team in an energetic fashion and we’re looking for a couple of those younger guys to step up and provide that energy that wasn’t there last week, particularly at the start of the game. There could be mistakes but you’ve got to be prepared to deal with that.”
Wyong v Wests Tigers: Wounded Wests Tigers Ready For Bouncing Roos
Morry Breen Oval, Saturday 19 March, 4:00pm
Last year’s grand-finalists Wyong notched their first win of the season, earning a hard-fought 24-18 win over Mounties, while the hapless Wests Tigers suffered a discouraging 44-6 smashing at the hands of the Warriors at Leichhardt Oval last weekend.
Both sides enter the contest with one win under their belts, and there’s no doubt Wests Tigers will be desperate for a better showing this week.
Wyong grinded out a much-needed win in Canberra last week, answering the call after a disappointing 28-18 loss to the Wentworthville Magpies to open their season.
Gutsy captain Mitch Williams returns for the Roos this week after leaving the field with concussion in the first half against Mounties.
Wyong will also be hoping for Jai Ingram to continue his sensational man-of-the-match heroics last weekend, as he blasted the Roos to victory.
For Wests Tigers, coach Paul Stringer is determined to rekindle the side’s Round 1 win where they powered their way to a satisfying 34-16 win over the Manly Sea Eagles.
Victory over the touted Roos could be the catalyst for the rest of the Wests Tigers’ season but Wyong will be keen to build early-season momentum with a solid performance this weekend.
Warriors v Newtown: Jets Take Off For New Zealand
Mt Smart Stadium, Sunday 20 March, 11:45am (NZ), 9:45am (AEST)
Watch LIVE on FOX Sports on Channel 501
In a promising opening to the season, the Newtown Jets put their unbeaten start on the line as they travel to New Zealand to take on the Warriors.
Earning a hard-fought 16-all draw with the Canterbury Bulldogs and holding for a gritty 28-20 win over the reigning premiers, the Newcastle Knights, last weekend, Jets coach Greg Matterson asserts there is still plenty of room to grow for his Newtown side as they prepare to take on the Warriors.
“The vibe’s good, the boys are good – it’s a good bunch of blokes,” Matterson told NSWRL.com.au. “They’re gelling well with the part-timers and full-timers. There’s a good feel at the place but there’s still a lot of work to do to get where we want to be footy wise.
“We’re still developing the way we want to play and we’re a fair way off that at the moment. We’re working on how we want to play and not focusing on them (the Warriors) but we know we can’t give them too much footy because they’re big and strong.”
After a first-up loss in Round 1, the Warriors were ruthless in a comprehensive 44-6 thumping of Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval last week but Matterson isn’t stressed in what’s possibly Newtown’s first serious test of the season.
“Nah it’s Round 3, we’re just looking to improve each week,” Matterson said. “We know they gave Wests Tigers a touch up last week on a hot day. They’re in a bit of form and coming back in front of a home crowd. They’ll be ready to play and we need to make it as difficult as we can for them.
“[Set completions] are be super important. You give them too much footy and they’re big boys. It’s important for us to use our sets well, make sure they’re coming off their own line at the end of our sets, make sure they don’t start the set off well and not let them get the result.
“First thing is completions. We’ve been really poor with completions. That’s put us under a bit of pressure in both games. If we tidy that up and work on our last-play options, that will go a long way.”