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VB NSW Cup Preview: Windsor Wolves vs Newcastle Knights

Leichhardt Oval, Sunday 29/9 @ 1PM

The Wolf Pack are well rested & prepared & on a season best 5 game winning streak but it doesn’t get much harder then taking on the 2nd placed Newcastle Knights, for the right to advance to the grand final to be played at ANZ Stadium the following Sunday.

The Newcastle Knights un…der experienced coach Rick Stone have been ultra impressive this season & have had the added advantage of playing played two finals games at Leichhardt Oval. With the Knights NRL side fast becoming the fairytale story of the NRL finals series, the return of key personnel from injury in first grade will allow players to come back into their NSW Cup side hence coach Guy Missio is under no illusions of just how tough a task this game will be especially given it is being played at Leichhardt Oval, a ground Windsor has yet to play at in 2013.

The Wolf Pack showed plenty of character & desire in coming home late to inflict the Sharks’ first home loss of season nearly two weeks back but will need to show more composure in attack if they are to go to the next step & qualify for next week’s grand final.

Tale Of The Tape:
As with last game’s opponents, Windsor come into this game having been beaten by their opponents on both occasions this year – R6 at Hunter Stadium 42-28 (the heaviest defeat the Wolves have suffered all season) & a controversial 38-36 R21 home loss.

Both teams have similar for / against differentials – Windsor having the better attack 782-738 offset by Newcastle’s resolute defensive record 553-623. Newcastle have yet to lose in 14 games where 20 or less points have been conceded & have a superior record in the close games winning 7 of 10 games decided by 6 or less points versus Windsor’s equivalent record of 5 from 12 games.
Windsor does has the advantage in games where 21 or more points have been conceded winning 10 (+1 draw) of 19 games versus Newcastle’s record of 5 wins from 12 games (2 of those wins coming against Windsor). Windsor’s key objective would be to avoid an arm wrestle with Newcastle & back their ability to defend the points scored through their potent attacking options.

Newcastle have an impeccable home record but are less comfortable when on the road with a 7 win record from 14 games played including just 3 wins from 9 games against top 8 opposition (one of which was over Windsor).  Windsor have won 8 (+1 draw) from 13 games played away from home including a reasonable record of 4 wins (+1 draw) from 8 games played against top 8 opposition.

Newcastle is arguably the form team of the second half of the season losing just 4 games compared to Windsor’s 5 but Windsor are undefeated in five games since the return of Guy Missio as coach. In fact from 10 games played this season, only Newcastle has defeated a Guy Missio coached team in 2013, achieved way back in Round 6 with a 42-28 home win. As with Cronulla last start, Guy Missio needs to find a way to defeat one of only three teams that Windsor has yet to defeat in the 2013 regular season in order to progress to the grand final.

Key Match Ups:
Between both teams 21 players (12 Windsor, 9 Newcastle) have played in the NRL at some point & thus offer plenty of match ups across the park to look forward to but here are the key match ups:

Matt Moylan v Kevin Naiqama
While this is the first game the Naiqama brothers will play one another in 2013, it could well be the battle of the fullbacks that determines the outcome of this game. Matt Moylan was safe as houses under the high ball in very tricky conditions last start & is back to the form that saw him take the NRL by storm earlier in the season. Kevin Naiqama is a noted speedster & despite his limited appearances in 2013 has scored 11 tries & will return to the NSW Cup full of confidence after his performance against the defending premiers in Melbourne last week & will want to show his 2014 employers more of the same this week.

Eto Nabuli v Josh Mantellato
The competition’s top try scorer squares off against the competitions top point scorer & its’ no surprise these two wingers were named in the NSW Cup’s team of the year. Mantellato earned selection in the NSW Residents team & made his NRL debut earlier in the year while Nabuli has taken the league world by storm repaying the faith shown in him by Brad Fittler & Andrew Johns. Mantellato seems to save his best form for the Wolves games especially with the boot, but with 14 tries to his name in 2013 cannot be underestimated in open play as well.

Wes Naiqama v Timana Tahu
Two internationals & former team mates go head to head once more. Both centres have been brilliant at times in defence as well as producing vital plays for their wingers in 2013 & its no surprise Chanel Mata’utia & Travis Robinson have been the beneficiaries with 20 tries & 10 tries respectively. Which centre provides the greatest value to his team will be vital to the outcome of this game.

Luke Capewell v Adrian Davis
Two of the best running halves in the NSW Cup go head to head, with NSW Cup Residents half, Davis having scored 14 tries in 2013 including both games versus Windsor, must be watched at all times while Capewell has been a perfect foil for Blake Austin with his ability to take on the line at will, scoring 9 tries in the process including 2 against the Knights in Round 21.

Sam Anderson & Cameron Ciraldo v Mitchell Frei & Toka Likiliki
Ex-Knights props “Slamming” Sam Anderson & the veteran Cameron Ciraldo will need to repeat their performances against the Sharks to have any hope of gaining ascendancy over the Knights pack. Sam Anderson has had a great season to date, earning selection in the NSW Residents team & the NSW Cup team of the year, debuting in the NRL with Penrith & earning the respect of his peers being named Wolves player of the year. Cameron Ciraldo’s experience since returning from first grade duties has been invaluable to the likes of O’Donnell, Hollis & Butfield but in Toka Likiliki & Mitchell Frei, these two props fear no one & both like to play a powerhouse game up front for the Knights.

Nathan Smith v Korbin Sims
The clash of the opposing back row forwards will be a beauty but Nathan Smith has the arduous task of keeping young gun Korbin Sims under check. The brother of Ashton & Tariq Sims has had a break through season having debuted in the NRL & has been damaging close to opposition try lines during the finals. It will take all of Smith’s experience & guile particularly in defence to keep Sims quiet.

Add the likes of Peter Mata’utia, Zane Tetevano, Anthony Quinn & Chris Adams, the Knights have a team line-up boasting plenty of talent & experience & expect plenty of fireworks given the Knights face four ex team-mates in Wes Naiqama, Sam Anderson, Cameron Ciraldo & Kyle O’Donnell.

With the Penrith Panthers completed their season for 2013, this represents a great opportunity for fans to get behind the Wolves finals campaign #HuntWithYourWolfPack with entry prices just $10 for adults, $5 for kids. A supporter bus has been booked & will depart Windsor Leagues at 10:45am with the cost just $10. Call Linda / Natalie on (02) 45 776488 or come into the club to secure what are limited seats by COB Thursday. However If you still can’t get to Leichhardt Oval, then follow us on twitter @WindsorWolves or on Facebook – Windsor Wolves Rugby League Club (www.facebook.com/WindsorWolvesRL) for score updates.

Finally in team selection news, Coach Guy Missio welcomes back from injury Geoff Daniela who goes straight into the centres with Travis Robinson shifted to the wing & Tony Satini going back to a six man interchange bench that also includes Liam Ayoub.

The Wolf Pack line-up as follows:
1. MATT MOYLAN 2. TRAVIS ROBINSON 3. WES NAIQAMA
4. GEOFF DANIELA 5. ETO NABULI 6. BLAKE AUSTIN
7. LUKE CAPEWELL 8. SAM ANDERSON 9. BLAKE SOUTH
10. CAMERON CIRALDO 11. VAIPUNA TIA KILIFI
12. ANTHONY CHERRINGTON 13. NATHAN SMITH

INTERCHANGE:
14. LIAM AYOUB 15. KYLE O’DONNELL 16. SAM HOLLIS
17. TOM EISENHUTH 19. TONY SATINI 24. JOSH BUTFIELD (Two to be omitted)

COACH: GUY MISSIO

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