NEWS | Newcastle Thunder match preview

NEWS | Newcastle Thunder match preview

27th September 2019

The Dons return to Kingston Park to take on Newcastle Thunder in Betfred League One preliminary play-off final.

Richard Horne’s side go into the game on the back of a defeat to Oldham last time out, knowing a win would take them back to the Vestacare Stadium next weekend for the final itself.

Newcastle got back to winning ways last weekend with a 38-18 win over a depleted Workington Town side in the Elimination Final.

Who’s the gaffer?

Newcastle appointed former Ireland international Simon Finnigan in April after parting company with former head coach Jason Payne just after the start of the 2019 campaign.

Finnigan spent time in the backroom staff at Leigh Centurions and Toronto Wolfpack before moving to Kingston Park. He has made some solid signings in guiding Thunder to a third placed finish in Betfred League One.

Ones to watch

Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e

An experienced player at Championship and League One level, ‘QLT’ made his name in the English game during a five-year spell with Sheffield Eagles, scoring an impressive 183 tries in 218 appearances. He joined big spending Toronto Wolfpack in 2016 and helped them win promotion to the second-tier before two spells with Halifax either side of a stint with Super League side Castleford Tigers. The 34-year-old joined Newcastle earlier this season in what was a major coup for the club.

Nick Newman

Australian half-back Newman was another mid-season recruit after joining Thunder from fellow Betfred League One side Coventry Bears. An attacking playmaker, Newman came through the youth setup in Australia with NRL clubs Sydney Roosters and Newcastle Knights, before making the move to the UK to join the Bears in 2018. He made an immediate impact in a struggling Bears side and has already been key to Newcastle’s strong end to the 2019 campaign.

Jared Blanke

The powerful Australian prop forward joined the Thunder from French Elite 1 side Lezignan ahead of the 2019 season and has already added some considerable size and power to the Thunder pack. Blanke has plenty of experience from earlier on in his career, including playing in the Queensland Cup before his move to Europe.

Last time out

The Dons beat Newcastle 20-6 in the first round of the play-offs less than two weeks ago. Winger Sam Doherty opened the scoring with his 20th try of the season, while Jason Tali, Frankie Mariano and Matty Chrimes also crossed before a late consolation score from Alex Clegg from the home side.

NEWS | Newcastle Thunder match preview