Knights v 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 being the difference.
“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, 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 couple of days with him and whether he’s in or out.”
This article first appeared on NSWRL.com.au
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