NRL preview: Round 7
The Knights are back on the road again after a great win at Hunter Stadium in Round 6.
It doesn’t get much harder than taking on the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium, but the red and blues showed that they can more than hold their own against competition favourites when they played the Melbourne Storm two weeks ago.
While the Knights showed the grit and determination required to win against the Tigers, they’ve played much better football this season and will need to build on that if they want to beat the Broncos.
BRISBANE BRONCOS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Date: Saturday April 16
Gates open: 5.00pm
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Broadcast: Fox Sports
1. Dane Gagai, 2. Nathan Ross, 3. Sione Mata’utia, 4. Pat Mata’utia, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Jarrod Mullen, 7. Trent Hodkinson (c), 8. Sam Mataora, 9. Tyler Randell, 10. Jack Stockwell, 11. Tariq Sims (c), 12. Korbin Sims, 13. Jeremy Smith (c). Interchange: 14. Will Pearsall, 15. Daniel Saifiti, 16. Jacob Saifiti, 17. Pauli Pauli.
1. Darius Boyd, 2. Corey Oates, 3. Jack Reed, 4. James Roberts, 5. Jordan Kahu, 6. Anthony Milford, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. Josh McGuire, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Adam Blair, 11. Alex Glenn, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Corey Parker (c). Interchange: 14. Jarrod Wallace, 15. Sam Thaiday, 16. Joe Ofahengaue, 17. Kodi Nikorima.
The brigade of brothers
For the first time in the Club’s history there will be three pairs of brothers playing for the Knights this weekend.
The Sims, Saifiti and Mata’utia (Pat and Sione) brothers have all been selected to play, and it will be interesting to see how their camaraderie rubs off on the rest of the team.
All three sets of siblings are physically imposing footballers, with the average weight 106kg and the average height 189cm.
All of them are capable of making big metres with their carries, which will be crucial against a Broncos side that averages 300 more metres per game than the Knights.
Korbin Sims in the second row
Sims made a late switch to the second row last weekend due to Robbie Rochow’s injury.
He played the full 80 minutes there, scoring a try and making 30 tackles. It was an outstanding effort from a player that has spent the vast majority of his NRL game time up front.
With both Sims brothers in the second row again this weekend, they will provide plenty of aggression and size in the edge defence.
“We have to go in thinking that we have to win,” Korbin Sims said on Wednesday.
“That’s we we’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks and that’s what has been working for us.”
Trent Hodkinson still strong from the tee
The Knights’ new recruit still has 100 per cent accuracy from the kicking tee in 2016.
16 on target from 16 attempts is no mean feat, and it was his accuracy with the boot that secured the team’s victory last weekend.
The halfback was impressive with the ball in hand as well, slotting Korbin Sims through for his try and playing a big part in the break that saw Akuila Uate score.
With talks of Origin selection growing, Hodkinson isn’t doing himself any harm with his calm and composed displays for the Knights.
Sione returns again
Mata’utia is back into the side in Round 7 having had an interrupted start to the season.
The game against the Melbourne Storm had barely begun when he was forced from the field with concussion, but his performance against the Raiders two weeks earlier showed how much the Knights need his competitiveness and strength.
“He’s very confident for his age, and he brings toughness to the team,” Akuila Uate said on Tuesday.
“He’s got a lot to learn as well, but this weekend it will be good have him back in the team.”
Broncos in form
The Broncos have won five of their first six games this season to cement themselves as competition favourites.
They’ve won all three of their games at home as well, so the Knights will have to put in a strong 80 minute performance if they want to hold their own.
“They’re fast and young, and their older players like Corey Parker seem to have been around forever but are in as good a form as they’ve ever been,” Nathan Brown said in a press conference on Tuesday.
“Their older players aren’t over the hill and their young halves are obviously outstanding players.”
THE FINAL SAY
“We’re going to train hard this week and prepare for Brisbane, but it was good to have that win in front of our home town,” Uate said on Tuesday.
“I was really proud of the boys’ performance. We didn’t give up, and played for 80 minutes.”