Newcastle rugby: Desperate Maitland out to end slide
KEY MAN: Maitland breakaway Sapati Peniata is primed for a big performance against his former club The Waratahs at Marcellin Park. Picture: Marina NeilMAITLAND coach Mick Hickling simply wants the Blacks to win againstThe Waratahs at Marcellin Park on Saturday.
Hickling is not fussedby how many or how they do it.
The Blacks, after a commanding start to the season, have lost five games on the bounce to slip to fifth.
“I have been waiting for us to tumble out of the five,” Hickling said. “We have been quite lucky.The way the draw has worked, everyone below us has been losing as well. Most of the losses have been tight. We have managed to pickup 12 bonus points which is equivalent to three wins. Now we just need a win.”
The Blacks’ past three losses to Merewether (19-14), Hamilton (29-27) and Wanderers (23-20) have been by less than a converted try.
“We played quite well against Hamilton and Wanderers,” Hickling said. “We have changed the structure in the forwards a little bit. There is a real focus on maintaining possession and getting to fifth and sixth phase.Last week, we wouldget to third phaseand make a mistake. If you turn the ball over against Waratah, they have some big, fast boys out wide. If you give someone like Carl Manu open territory, you are in strife. We want to make sure we build phases.”
The Tahs beat Maitland 39-33 in round four and have been somewhat of a bogey team. They won at Marcellin Park in the final round last season to steal fifth place.
“They towelled us up a couple of times last year,” Hickling said. “In the first game this season,we were chasing our tail.We know if we are in the game at half-time we are a good chance. We have to make sure we go with them early.”
Prop James Robinson (shoulder) and hooker Rhys Watson (shoulder) return from injury. Sapati Peniata shifts from hooker to breakaway and is “primed for a big one” against his old club.
“There was a fair bit of chat last game,” Hickling said.
The Tahs are coming off a 54-24 loss to Lake Macquarie and will againbe without work horse Dylan Heins.Another defeat and they could drop to ninth.
Elsewhere, Lake Macquarie welcome back hooker Barcelona Lupematasila from suspension for the grudge match against Southern Beaches at Walters Park. The Roos are chasing a sixth straight win in the battle for third.Jay Strachan has been named at fullback for the Greens road trip to Singleton, leaders Hamilton are away to Nelson Bay and Wanderers meet University at Bernie Curran Oval.