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[ISP finals] Previewing Newcastle battle

Ryan Selvage, www.nswrl.com.au | Image: www.photosport.nz

Vodafone Warriors v Newcastle Knights

UOW Jubilee Oval, Sydney

7.05pm, Sunday, September 10

Newcastle proved the beneficiary of missing stars, while the Vodafone Warriors were left to rue chances that may have been with leading players absent in week one of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW finals.

While the South Sydney Rabbitohs called upon some of the North Sydney Bears’ best, Newcastle put aside the meek challenge of the red and black while Penrith made inroads in its qualifying final against a weakened Vodafome Warriors outfit.

Team of the year member Mason Lino turned out for the Vodafone Warriors in their final NRL clash against the Wests Tigers, putting a major dent in the Auckland-based side’s ISP NSW finals hopes in week one.

That's set to change tonight as they welcome back six NRL-experienced players in a big boost to their hopes of booking a place in the preliminary finals.

Not to detract from the Knights’ efforts with ball in hand, the Novocastrians showed they’ll again be a tough threat to contain, running in six tries to the Bears four en route to the 22-point win.

 

Recent history

The Vodafone Warriors started their season in emphatic style against the Knights, scoring a big 52-24 win as the sides went head-to-head in round one.

Though as the season progressed and the Knights found their feet, so too did they lreduce the gap between themselves and the New Zealand outfit as the sides shared the spoils in an 18-all draw in round 13.

 

Where it will be won

Fielding a different halves pairing to that of their week one outfit, expect the Vodafone Warriors to possess more attacking power through their six and seven, as Ata Hingano and Mason Lino again link up in the play-making roles.

The Knights will also trot out a change of combination with Jack Cogger to return to the halfback role, and Will Pearsall in wear No 9.

Regular five-eighth Jaelen Feeney was also absent for part of the clash with the Bears, ruled unfit to return to the field of play when failing a HIA (concussion) assessment.

Boasting a slick and powerful back five, look for the Warriors outside men to take the heat off their forwards with strong carries from dummy-half, causing headaches for the Knights tiring pack.