NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v WESTS TIGERS
Round 10, 2015 NRL Premiership
Date: Sunday May 17, 4pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Referee: Gavin Badger
Last time they met:
Despite an Akuila Uate hat-trick, the Knights were beaten 23-20 by the Tigers at Hunter Stadium in Round 13 last year.
The Tigers edge it here, with ten wins to the Knights’ nine.
While the Newcastle Knights weren’t at their best defensively against the Manly Sea Eagles last week they also had more than their fair share of bad luck, with three borderline tries denied by the video referee.
Director of Football Michael Hagan says he has seen plenty of determination from the players since then to turn things around.
“They say that the more you win the closer you are to your next loss, so I’d like to think that it goes the other way around as well,” he says.
“The more you lose the closer you are to your next victory.
“You need to work a bit harder sometimes to find that extra luck.”
The men in red and blue will have to be at their best when they come up against a young Tigers side that is full of energy and speed.
While they were defeated 36-4 by the Sydney Roosters last Saturday, they will be eager to bounce back this week.
“That Roosters team was near their best,” Hagan adds.
“The Tigers had been pretty good up until that game… they’ve got a young team with plenty of energy and speed and I’m sure that’s what their coach will be looking for again.
“They’ve got a lot of enthusiastic chasers on their kicks and I think that’s going to be big area for us to try and combat this week.”
The Knights are also still without chief playmaker Jarrod Mullen, which means there will again be a reshuffle.
“Tyrone Roberts and Kurt Gidley need to get their heads around playing in the halves, as does Dane Gagai at fullback,” Hagan explains.
“I thought Dane was fairly positive there last week, but it will take some time for him to get to speed playing 80 minutes there.”
With his pace and footwork Gagai has the ability to punish teams from kick returns, but the Tigers have a weapon of their own at the back in James Tedesco.
Tedesco and winger Pat Richards have eight tries apiece so far this season, which is something the Knights will have to be mindful of.
“Tedesco is a real strike player and Pat Richards has been a point scorer for them,” Hagan concedes.
“And then there’s a bloke like Martin Taupau, who’s had really big wraps and is in good form.
“Aaron Woods is now an Origin and Test player, Robbie Farah is a quality Origin player and Keith Galloway has been there for awhile now.”
The Tigers do have an outstanding forward pack, but the Knights are no worse off with players such as Kade Snowden, Jeremy Smith, Beau Scott and Tariq Sims.
“Our forward pack has a good level of experience and work-rate so we need to get the job done there this week if we can.”
Where it will be won
“Kick-chase is a really important part of the plan every week to try and limit their time and space at the back of the field,” Hagan says.
“Both teams will be desperate and both teams have those quality players that can generate points so it’ll come down to the team that can contain the opposition back three.”
“Hopefully on the weekend there might be an opportunity to get some broken play and hopefully we capitalise on that,” Dane Gagai said in an interview on Tuesday.