NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS VS WESTS TIGERS
Round 11, 2014 VB NSW Cup
Saturday, May 24 Kick-Off: 1.10pm
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney
Broadcast: Live on Fox Sports
Last Time They Met:
Newcastle defeated the Tigers on three occasions last season. The first a 10-8 win in Round 8, the second a 38-18 victory in Round 16 and the third a 38-10 triumph in the second week of the finals.
Ross, Mantellato, Wiliame, P.Mata'utia, Ikinofo, Minto, Dobson, Likiliki, Waddell, Vaivai, Elias, Randall, Hilder (c). Interchange: Redman, Horwood, Steele, Hartin, Tupou.
Abou-Sleiman, Koroibete, Fine, Taukafa, Hitchcox, Moses, Stevens, Brown, Craig, Buchanan, Lovett, Farlow, Santi. Interchange: Bullock, Fiagatusa, Sironen, Inosesio, Hollis, Brown.
On the back of three consecutive defeats, the Knights will be determined as ever to return to the winner's circle with a strong showing against the Tigers.
Helping their cause is the return of key playmakers Nathan Ross (quad strain) and Travis Waddell (18th man NRL).
It won't be an easy task though against a Tigers side sitting in fifth position and coming off a hard fought victory over last year's premiers Cronulla.
With this is mind, the Knights will have to be at their best to get the victory away from home.
Look to the likes of Ross, Waddell and halves Matt Minto and Michael Dobson to take charge, while it's paramount forwards Pat Vaivai and Toka Likiliki set a powerful precedent up front.
The Tigers possess plenty of strike across the park, a quality that should go to another level on Saturday following the addition of young gun Mitchell Moses.
After impressing in the NYC in the past few seasons, Moses will make his debut in the NSW Cup ranks.
Newcastle will also need to watch out for classy lock Brendan Santi and NRL regular Curtis Sironen, who starts on the bench in his return match from a foot injury.
Nathan Ross vs Daniel Abou-Sleiman
After three weeks on the sidelines with hamstring and quad injuries, Ross is jumping out of his skin to return to football this weekend.
Prior to his injury setbacks, the former Kurri Kurri Bulldog scored four tries in a fortnight as the team's main attacking weapon at fullback.
If Ross can recapture that brilliance against the Tigers on Saturday, then the Knights will be in the box seat to get the win away from home.
Matt Minto vs Mitchell Moses
Minto looks more comfortable back in the halves directing play after a few weeks covering for Ross at fullback.
The Rockhampton-born playmaker has all the skills and the Knights will need those assets to come to the fore against a confident Tigers outfit.
Minto's battle with rising star Mitchell Moses should be a cracker.
Moses is a young player with the league world at his feet and Newcastle must contain him. Minto has the edge in experience though and that should help him take charge in this personal match-up.
Pat Vaivai vs Jack Buchanan
Talk to coach Rick Stone and he'll tell you Vaivai has been one of his most consistent performers this season.
From his powerful running game through to his brutal defence, Vaivai is a potent player with bucket loads of potential.
If the Samoan-born bookend can fire against the Tigers, it will go a long way to helping the Knights get the two competition points.
Player to watch:
As mentioned earlier, Sironen has been named on the bench in his return match from a foot injury.
The son of Tigers legend Paul is a player with enormous ability and the Knights must be wary of him.
Where it will be won:
Newcastle must start well. In the past two weeks the Knights have struggled to take charge in the opening exchanges.
Obviously injuries and the absence of key players hasn't helped their cause, but this must change to beat the Tigers on home turf.
So it's of vital importance that the likes of Vaivai and Likiliki take control up front, while playmakers Dobson and Minto spark the attack.
If this happens, the Knights are every chance of getting the win away from home.