Thursday, 16 June 2016

Sunday's Coming: Newcastle ThunderFalcons

Whilst researching Newcastle ThunderFalcons this week, we came across an interesting pre-season quote from the Newcastle Chronicle.  “Thunder, now under the ownership of Newcastle Falcons and sharing their Kingston Park stadium, finished a disappointing eighth in the League One table last season.”

They currently sit 10th in League 1, with only four games remaining to get into the top eight before the bottom seven get cast adrift to scrap it out for the trophy that no-one really wants to win.

Newcastle are coached by former Canberra Raiders under-20s coach Mick Mantelli - which probably explains the unlikely inclusion of two players from Queanbeyan in his squad. He was also the assistant coach of the Italian national team at the last World Cup, so plenty of experience there.

Perhaps the measure of the ThunderFalcons real ambitions lie in the fact that their captain Joe  Brown was pleased with a 22-32 defeat  by TOXIIIC on Kingstone Park’s plastic carpet  last weekend.

On this week (interesting omission on the word ‘League’ there) he said: “I thought that it was a great effort from all the lads, we knew what it was going to take to try and get a result out of them and we just fell short towards the end. I think we can take a lot of heart from the performance that we gave.”

Though our favourite quote from the post-match interview came in the narrative: “Only being beaten by ten points, the smallest margin of victory that Toulouse have recorded this season, Brown says that his sides game plan worked…”

Would be interesting to see what happens if the game plan doesn’t work - but there are lots of indications that Newcastle simply run out of gas late in games.

Having led for much of the first half, Newcastle were overhauled in the second half last week: similarly so a fortnight ago against York.

Brown again: “A lot of the teams that Toulouse have played this year have been steamrollered by them and have gone into half time around 20 points down before coming back as they ease off a bit so we knew we had to get into them straight from the off which we did. We managed it for about 60 minutes.”

“The first fifteen minutes of the second half didn’t help us but they had some really good experienced players in their squad. There are guys in there who have player NRL and Super League and we lacked a bit of a cutting edge towards the end to try and get those final points.

Mantelli’s squad is an eclectic mix of local talent and League 1 journeymen, but a deeper dig reveals a thick seam of Aussie infliuence including: Prop Fran Welsh from CRL Group 9 side Young Cherrypickers; Ben Thorburn halfback from Brisbane comp side Souths Logan Magpies; Vincent Rennie, former Canterbury Bulldogs NSW Cup and Melbourne Storm U20s prop - and Cook Islands international; Fullback Tom Reudiger from Canberra’s QueanBeyan Blues; Centre Josh Atkinson from Canberra comp side Queanbeyan Kangaroos and Aaron Teroi - ex-Melbourne Holden Cup half back. So at least four of us at the game on Sunday will have been to Seiffert Oval.

Hornets make the trip on the back of the repercussions following an underwhelming performance at York. Last Saturday Alan Kilshaw had the whole squad in at Mossway at 8am. Augmented by a handful of willing bodies from Warrington, he ran them through a full 80 minute game - 13 on 13, with no subs - to raise the intensity of the prep ahead of Sunday’s game. We’d assume it safe to suggest that Hornets would struggle to play that badly again - and Sunday provides a stern challenge as we look to cement a place at the front-end of the eight ahead of the impending split.

Last years games against ThunderFalcons were intense, tight affairs - and we anticipate the same this time round. So get yourself up there and help make a difference: let’s make some noise and cheer the boys home.