NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS VS CANBERRA RAIDERS
Round 6, 2014 NRL Premiership
Saturday, April 12 Kick-Off: 3pm
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Referees: Jared Maxwell and Henry Perenara
Last Time They Met:
The Raiders recorded a close 26-20 win at Hunter Stadium in round 2 this season.
Newcastle had their chances to win, but couldn’t hold on with Canberra charging to victory on the back of the brilliance of fullback Anthony Milford.
If you include the pre-season trial in Tamworth, Saturday's clash in Canberra will be the third time this season the Knights and Raiders have played against each other this year.
Newcastle won 34-14 in February's trial, while the Raiders returned serve in round 2 this season and will be pumped up for a big match in front of their home fans.
Since the NRL's inception in 1998, the Knights have only won four matches and drawn one in 16 games in the Nations Capital.
The Knights have bad memories of the last time they played at Canberra Stadium in Round 9 last season, going down 44-14 in one of their worst defeats for the year.
In saying that, the Club's biggest ever win was in Canberra- a 70-34 domination in round 12 of the 2006 season.
Boyd, McManus, Gagai, Leilua, Uate, Dobson, Roberts, Snowden, Gidley (c), Mason, Scott, Rochow, Smith. Bench: Clydsdale, Sims, Cuthbertson, Fa’alogo.
Milford, Robinson, Croker, Allwood, Tupou, Wighton, Campese (c), Shillington, Buttriss, White, Papalii, Kennedy, Fensom. Bench: McCrone, Vaughan, Tilse, Boyd.
Desperation and concentration have been the buzzwords at Knights HQ this week according to assistant coach Rick Stone.
On the back of a disappointing performance against North Queensland on Monday night, Stone says these two areas must significantly improve against the Raiders in Canberra on Saturday afternoon.
"That desperation and competitiveness that comes out in the game needs to be coupled with concentration as well," Stone says.
"Because if you are giving away penalties and making errors, it makes it tough for you.
"We are letting in some soft tries, which are really hurting us.
"Our concentration levels really need to remain high throughout 80 minutes. It's alright to concentrate for 70 minutes, but a soft try here and there can really cost you the game as we found out at Hunter Stadium in round 2 against Canberra.
"The Raiders have been going about their work really well and their energy has been really good. They are really competitive in all their games and Canberra in Canberra is always a tough ask for us."
Darius Boyd vs Anthony Milford
Boyd is starting to find his feet after an interrupted start to the season with a hamstring injury.
From his ability to finish off a try through to his strong defence, the Origin and Test star is a vital part of Newcastle's lineup.
Boyd faces a big test this week against Canberra excitement machine Anthony Milford.
Stone says it's paramount the Knights shutdown Milford after his starring role against them back in round 2 at Hunter Stadium.
The Brisbane-born flyer set-up two late tries to steer his side to an upset victory and Newcastle must limit his effectiveness in attack.
Boyd didn't play in that match, but his presence at GIO Stadium on Saturday should make a big difference to the Knights.
Willie Mason vs Brett White
For a bloke in his 13th season in the NRL, Mason's form has been as good as any forward in the NRL.
So much so, some experts are calling for the popular veteran to play Origin for NSW this season.
It's not such a crazy idea though, because Mason has been extremely strong in recent weeks with a total of 246 metres in the past two matches.
He'll take on Canberra big man Brett White, a player with a similar work ethic and effect on his football team.
If Mason can continue his powerful charges up front, then the Knights fast outside backs will be in the box seat to put on some points.
Beau Scott vs Josh Papalii
With his strong runs and brutal defence, Scott has been one of the Club's best performers in the opening five rounds.
Stone can't speak highly enough of the Picton-born back-rower's effort thus far this season.
"Beau has been great for us," Stone enthuses.
"He has always been renowned as a defensive player and he is still doing that well, but I think his defence has really come on in leaps and bounds with a few offloads and line-breaks.
"He is definitely causing defence trouble and he was our best by a long way against the Cowboys on Monday night."
As good as Scott as been this season, Stone knows he'll have his hands full against the size and strength of Papalii.
"Josh looks like he has been included and he is a big plus for the Raiders ofd course and a handful for us on our left edge," he says.
"He is a damaging player for sure and we'll have to watch him."
Player to watch:
Stone has been highly impressed with Sims in his two NRL games off the bench this season against Cronulla and North Queensland.
"I think Korbs is going really well," he says.
"He is only been back a couple of weeks in the top grade, but I think he can cement a place there. He has got good minutes in him and he is a powerful big fella and he has got strong defence.
"He has just got to minimise a few little errors and mistakes and I think he can be a regular for the rest of the year."
Where it will be won:
As Stone said earlier, concentration and desperation will be key factors for the Knights to beat the Raiders on Saturday.
The Green Machine proved that back in round 2 at Hunter Stadium when they stole the match with two late tries.
Winning in Canberra is never easy, as Newcastle's overall record in the Nations Capital suggests, but the Knights are more than capable of winning this one if they can improve a few basic fundamentals and shutdown Milford and his magic from fullback.