Qualification Final 19-man squad

Newcastle Thunder have stuck with a tried and tested selection for this Sunday’s Betfred League 1 Qualification Final against Doncaster at Kingston Park Stadium (KO 2:30pm), with head coach Simon Finnigan naming a strong 19-man squad.

Thunder are aiming to advance to a semi-final date away to Oldham RLFC next weekend by avenging their opening day defeat to the Dons and making it two wins out of three against the South Yorkshire club this season.

Taking a dramatic 19-18 win with a last second drop goal the last time the two teams met back in June, Thunder will be hoping to repeat the lightening starts they have made in both games this season but being more assured in preserving that advantage past half-time.

Having taken 16 wins and a draw from 24 games so far this season, Thunder’s head coach is expected to keep faith with players who have served him so well since he took charge on Tyneside back at the end of March.

Included on the list of players from which Sunday’s 17-man side will be selected are Samoan international trio Misi Taulapapa, Quentin Lalulu Togaga’e, and Matty Wright along with leading try scorer for the season Kieran Gill.

The 23-year-old on loan centre, who has made a permanent switch to Tyneside for the 2020 season, has crossed for tries 22 times in 2019 and needs just four more to take over the record of most tries in a season for Thunder, a record which has stood with Matty Daylight since the 1999 Super League season.

There is also plenty of local flavour and pride set to lead the charge too, with academy product Alex Clegg, North Shields’ Scottish international Sam Luckley and Gateshead’s Rhys Clarke also included.

Looking ahead to the game, head coach Simon Finnigan said: “We’re excited for this weekend’s game and it should be a good battle. We’re one each for the season and they have been really good games of rugby. The crowd are going to enjoy it and its going to be excellent for League 1

“It is good to play at home in this first game because you’re in your own surroundings. We know we have to step up our performance and intensity, otherwise we won’t get what we believe we deserve.

“It’s about being good for a month now to go up and that’s what playoffs should be about and bring out your best. The lads know what’s coming and they just want to get started.”

Tickets for Sunday’s game will be available on the gate with adult tickets starting from £13 and Under 16s from £8.

Newcastle Thunder Squad v Doncaster

FROM – Harry Aldous, Jared Blanke, Joe Brown, Keal Carlile, Rhys Clarke, Alex Clegg, Conor Fitzsimmons, Kieran Gill, Quentin Lalulu Togaga’e, Sam Luckley, Muizz Mustapha, Liam McAvoy, Nick Newman, Aaron Ollett, Alex Rowe, Evan Simons, Misi Taulapapa, Matty Wright, Lewis Young