PANTHERS: 1. Kieran MOSS, 2. Eto NABULI, 3. Waqa BLAKE, 4. Wes NAIQAMA, 5. Tom EISENHUTH, 6. Luke CAPEWELL, 7. Tom HUMBLE, 8. Leilani LATU, 9. Kevin KINGSTON, 10. Reagan CAMPBELL-GILLARD, 11. Isaah YEO, 12. Nathan SMITH, 13. Ryan SIMPKINS
INTERCHANGE: 14. Vaipuna TIA KILIFI, 15. Kierran MOSELEY, 16. Andy SAUNDERS, 17. Daniel FOSTER, 18. Liam AYOUB
KNIGHTS: 1. Nathan ROSS 22. Josh MANTELLATO 3. Brayden WILIAME 4. Pat MATA’UTIA 5. Chanel MATA’UTIA 6. Matt MINTO 7. Michael DOBSON 8. Sam MATAORA 9. Chad REDMAN 10. Pat VAIVAI 11. Clint NEWTON 18. Timana TAHU 13. Matt HILDER
INTERCHANGE: 14. Travis WADDELL 15. Tyler RANDELL 16. Michael STEELE 17. Brenton HORWOOD 25. James ELIAS 30. Toka LIKILIKI
After a tough season and an even tougher finals series to date, this week sees the two teams that finished first and second at the end of the regular season face off in the NSW Cup Grand Final.
A strong second half of the year saw the Knights force their way into second place at the end of 25 rounds. They then defeated Wentworthville in the first week of the finals before earning their way into the big Grand Final with a dominant display over the Illawarra Cutters last week, winning 34-10.
They boast a very impressive line-up with a mountain of first grade experience, most of which is in their back row which features Timana Tahu, Matt Hilder and former Panther Clint Newton. The Knights game is built around their big men Sam Mataora and Pat Vaivai, as well as impact player Toka Likiliki, all of whom are blessed with both size and leg speed.
The two teams have met twice this year already in the regular season, and each have come away with a win. The Knights are one of only four teams that defeated the Panthers this year, thanks to a round 1 victory on our home turf. The Panthers squared the ledger in round 9 when they travelled up to Cessnock and came home with a 38- 16 win.
The Panthers have had a very successful season to date, finishing atop of the ladder by 10 points. Their success was built on their defence which saw them finish the season with the best defensive record in the competition. However, coach Garth Brennan and the boys are well aware that this counts for nothing on Sunday when they run out for the big game. The Panthers come into this match following a 31-12 victory over the Magpies in last week’s preliminary final. The boys started slow in that game and trailed for much of the first half. They will need to start this weekend a lot stronger if they are to get on top of Newcastle who will be full of confidence.
The task will be made harder for the Panthers with a number of key players missing through injury or first grade commitments. Both Sam Anderson and Kevin Naiqama have been named in the NRL side to take on the Bulldogs, but handy replacements Tom Eisenhuth, Daniel Foster and Liam Ayoub have been named to take their place in the line-up.
All members and fans are encouraged to come along to Allianz Stadium on Sunday afternoon to support the boys and also enjoy a good day of football which also features the Sydney Shield and Ron Massey Cup Grand Finals.
From everyone at the Panthers, we wish the boys the very best in their Grand Final this weekend!