NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v CRONULLA SHARKS
Round 4, 2014 NRL Premiership
Sunday, March 30 Kick-Off: 3pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
Referees: Gavin Badger and Alan Shortall
Last Time They Met:
Newcastle claimed a stunning 18-14 victory over the Sharks in round 22 last season.
A Dane Gagai try in the dying stages proved the difference in a classic match at Cronulla.
The Sharks proved too good in round 8 though, winning a golden point thriller 21-20 at Hunter Stadium.
The Knights have a strong overall record versus Cronulla having won nine of their past 13 games against the Sharks dating back to 2006.
Newcastle also holds the advantage at home, with four victories from six matches since 2006.
Minto, McManus, Gagai. Leilua, Uate, Dobson, Roberts, Snowden, Gidley (c), Mason, Scott, Rochow, Smith. Interchange: Clydsdale, Sims, Fa’alogo, Cuthbertson.
Gordon, Stapleton, Ayshford, Leutele, Wright, Carney, Holdsworth, Fifita, Morris, Tagataese, Prior, Graham (c), Heighington. Bench: De Dois, Arona, Gibbs, Vave, Sopoaga.
With Newcastle chasing their first win for the 2014 season, Sunday's home clash against Cronulla takes on vital importance for Club.
The Knights have struggled for consistency in the opening three rounds, but you certainly can't fault their effort.
This desire was on display in spades in their close loss against the Storm last Monday. As courageous as Newcastle were though, they let themselves down with poor execution and discipline at vital stages.
It's a facet of their game that must improve tenfold against a Cronulla side who will be desperate to snare their maiden victory for the season.
If Newcastle can improve their discipline though, then they should be in the box seat to win this one at home.
Michael Dobson vs Todd Carney
This should be an intriguing battle between these two former Canberra Raiders teammates.
Dobson showed against the Storm last Monday that he is starting to find his feet in the NRL after five years in the English Super League.
Carney, meanwhile, showed plenty of class in his return match from a hamstring injury against the Dragons last Saturday.
While Cronulla didn't get the win, Carney was strong in attack and Dobson will have to play well to contain him.
Kade Snowden vs Andrew Fifita
We all know footy matches are won up front and this battle between Snowden and Fifita will have the foundations at Hunter Stadium rocking.
Snowden has worked tirelessly in the opening rounds, but he'll have to go to another level to stop Fifita in his tracks.
The Origin and Test forward, who recently signed with the Bulldogs for next season, is one of the strongest props in the NRL and it will be Snowden's job to limit his effectiveness.
Robbie Rochow vs Wade Graham
Robbie Rochow has easily been the Knights' best performer in the opening rounds on the back of his strong charges and consistent defence.
The proud Maitland-born back-rower is determined as ever to get Newcastle's on track with a big win over Cronulla at home.
Standing in Rochow's way will be Sharks skipper Wade Graham, a player with a similar work ethic and desire to succeed.
So brace yourself, this match-up should be an absolute classic.
Player to watch:
Sims has been named on the bench for the Knights and expect him to play a big role against the Sharks.
The emerging forward played 12 NRL games off the bench last season and will be keen as to impress with a strong display on Sunday.
Where will it be won:
There's no doubting both teams will be desperate to record their first victory for the season, but who wants it more?
The Knights have been through a tough week on-and-off the field, but they'll receive a huge boost playing in front of their loyal fans at Hunter Stadium.
Cronulla won't be easy to beat, especially with big man Andrew Fifita returning from suspension, but Newcastle has plenty to play for at home and should be too strong.