NRL 2016 - Rnd 4 - Warriors vs Knights Gameday ChatterWarriors v Knights: Schick Preview
Thu 24 Mar, 2016, 12:00pm
By Corey Rosser, New Zealand Correspondent
Schick Hydro Preview:
Warriors v Newcastle Knights
Mt Smart Stadium
Monday, 4.00pm NZT, 2:00pm AEDT
The Warriors and Knights continue to search for their first victory of the year, joining the Roosters as the only teams without the taste of success in 2016.
While the Warriors remain rooted to the bottom of the Telstra Premiership ladder following a 21-14 loss to the Storm last week, the Knights jumped just ahead thanks to a 24-24 draw with the Raiders in Round 3.
Warriors coach Andrew McFadden has included Konrad Hurrell and Sam Lisone on the bench for Monday's clash at Mt Smart Stadium, with James Gavet and the injured Nathaniel Roache making way. Rookie Jazz Tevaga starts at hooker for the second week in a row.
The Knights have just one forced change from last week with Sione Mata'utia suspended after being found guilty of a dangerous throw against Canberra.
Watch out Warriors: The Knights steamrolled one of the competition's biggest forward packs during the draw with Canberra last week. The Newcastle big men, made up of a mix of veterans and relative unknowns, ran for 1,779 metres compared to the Raiders' 1,293 to storm back into the contest. Individually six Newcastle forwards managed over 100 metres at Hunter Stadium.
For the first time this year Newcastle have a reason to feel confident, after taking an unbeaten Raiders team to golden point and securing a draw. After heavy defeats in Rounds 1 and 2 the Knights were able to win the possession count against Canberra and made five line breaks on their way to four tries.
Watch out Knights: The Warriors had their best attacking performance last week, returning to some of the dynamic play which strikes fear into every team in the competition when they get it right. The New Zealand outfit got 16 offloads away and made four line breaks against the Storm, while their evasive ball carrying forced 27 missed tackles.
A mix of poor completions and sloppy errors mean the Knights have had to make more tackles than any other team in the NRL so far with 1,095 in three games. It is going to be hard to beat any side in the competition if you are averaging that much work on the defensive side, and Newcastle need to manipulate play better with ball in hand to ensure they have the energy to go with the Warriors for 80 minutes.
Key match-up: Shaun Johnson v Jarrod Mullen. Two playmakers with contrasting styles, they both need to bring their respective skills to the party if their team is to get the points on Monday. So far this year Johnson has been quiet on the ball, a point which is reflected in Mullen easily trumping him in metres gained where the Knights No.6 averages 62.9 to Johnson's 44.5. The short kicking game these two produce, and the subsequent ability to force repeat sets, will be crucial in Round 4 with both sides showing they have points in them when they can keep the pill for prolonged periods.
The history: Played 34; Warriors 16, Knights 17, Drawn 1. Newcastle have the smallest of advantages in the overall head-to-head record, but in the last 14 matches between these two sides the Warriors have won 10 of them. In their last 11 trips to Auckland Newcastle have gone home with the two points just twice.
What are the odds: Newcastle opened at a huge price of $5.50 for a two horse race, but they’ve been strongly backed ever since and you won’t get anything like that from here on in. Despite there being slightly more investment on the Knights, the Warriors are one of the shorter priced teams of the round with Sportsbet.
Match officials: Referee: Adam Devcich. Assistant Referee: Chris James. Touch Judges: Shane Rehm, Anthony Eliott. Review Officials: Ben Galea & Ashley Klein. Senior RO: Bernard Sutton
Televised: SS2 4:00pm NZST. Fox Sports – live coverage from 1:30pm AEDT
The way we see it: Both sides showed improvement last week, despite still being without a victory in 2016. Newcastle have the ability to score points in quick succession – clocking up 18 in eight minutes to take the game to golden point in Round 3 – while the Warriors are improving defensively. Overall Andrew McFadden's men have more talent right now and have shown enough to suggest they will win at home this week. Warriors by eight.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
4.00pm NZST, Monday, March 28
Referees: Adam Devcich and Chris James
1 ROGER TUIVASA-SHECK (Otahuhu Leopards)
2 TUIMOALA LOLOHEA (Marist Saints)
3 BLAKE AYSHFORD (Paddington Tigers)
4 SOLOMONE KATA (Howick Hornets)
5 JONATHAN WRIGHT (Northern Lake Warriors)
6 SHAUN JOHNSON (Hibiscus Coast Raiders)
7 JEFF ROBSON (Leeton Greenies)
8 JACOB LILLYMAN (Richmond Tigers)
9 JAZZ TEVAGA (Papakura Sea Eagles)
10 BEN MATULINO (Te Aroha Eels)
11 BODENE THOMPSON (Tauranga City Sharks)
12 RYAN HOFFMAN (Campbelltown Collegians) (c)
13 SIMON MANNERING (Te Aroha Eels)
14 CHARLIE GUBB (University Hunters)
15 SAM LISONE (Otara Scorpions)
16 KONRAD HURRELL (Mount Albert Lions)
17 ALBERT VETE (Mangere East Hawks)
HEAD COACH | ANDREW McFADDEN
1 DANE GAGAI
2 NATHAN ROSS
4 PAT MATA'UTIA
5 CORY DENNISS
6 JARROD MULLEN
7 TRENT HODKINSON (c)
8 SAM MATAORA
9 TYLER RANDELL
10 KORBIN SIMS
11 JACOB SAIFITI
12 ROBBIE ROCHOW
13 JEREMY SMITH
14 DANNY LEVI
15 MICKEY PAEA
16 LACHLAN FITZGIBBON
17 PAULI PAULI
COACH | NATHAN BROWN
LATE MAIL | Vatuvei and Luke in
Veterans Manu Vatuvei and Issac Luke have given the Vodafone Warriors a huge boost ahead of tomorrow’s fourth-round NRL clash against the Newcastle Knights at Mount Smart Stadium tomorrow (4.00pm kick-off; match day sponsor: SKYCITY).
Both came through today’s final training session clearing the way for them to play tomorrow as the Vodafone Warriors bid to win their first game of the season.
Vatuvei was forced off the field with a rib problem after 47 minutes of the second-round encounter with the Brisbane Broncos, side-lining him for last Sunday’s clash against the Melbourne Storm. He wasn’t chosen earlier this week but is now set for his first home appearance of the year and the 213th game of his career.
Luke was poised to make his home debut as a Vodafone Warrior against Melbourne only to be ruled out with a leg injury he picked up in the final field session the previous day, so handing 20-year-old rookie Jazz Tevaga an unexpected start.
Luke was also left out of the original side to play Newcastle but has been given the all-clear for his belated first home appearance, the 191st of his career.
While Vatuvei and Luke will add a combined total of more than 400 NRL appearances to the side tomorrow, the Vodafone Warriors have lost second rower Bodene Thompson. He picked up a rib complaint this week and was withdrawn from the side after today’s run.
Vodafone Warriors head coach Andrew McFadden said Thompson’s injury – like those to Vatuvei and Luke last week – is a short-term issue.
With Vatuvei and Luke in and Thompson out, McFadden will wait until an hour before kick-off tomorrow to confirm the final squad of 17 to take on Newcastle.
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