NRL preview: Round 11
While it’s only six days with travel between games, the Knights will be eager to get back out on the field against the Wests Tigers this Saturday.
WESTS TIGERS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Date: Saturday May 21
Gates open: 10.20am
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
Broadcast: Fox Sports
1. Dane Gagai, 2. Nathan Ross, 3. Sione Mata’utia, 4. Pat Mata’utia, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Brock Lamb, 7. Trent Hodkinson (c), 8. Sam Mataora, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Tariq Sims (c), 12. Jacob Saifiti, 13. Jeremy Smith (c). Interchange: 14. Tyler Randell, 15. Korbin Sims, 16. Jack Stockwell, 17. Mickey Paea, 18. Pauli Pauli, 19. Jack Cogger.
1. Justin Hunt, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Tim Simona, 4. Kevin Naiqama, 5. Jordan Rankin, 6. Mitchell Moses, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Dene Halatau, 10. Ava Seumanufagai, 11. Josh Aloiai, 12. Chris Lawrence, 13. Elijah Taylor. Interchange: 14. Tim Grant, 15. Matt Ballin, 16. JJ Felise, 17. Kyle Lovett, 18. Michael Chee Kam.
The pursuit of improvement
“For us it’s about trying to get some consistency in some key areas of the game,” Nathan Brown explained on Tuesday.
While the Knights have had patches of inspiring football this year against the likes of Melbourne and Canberra, they have also had times when they’ve struggled to stay in the contest.
“It’s a part of the game and you have to learn to improve and take it sweetly because learning makes us better as a team and makes me better as a player as well," 19-year-old Sione Mata’utia said on Wednesday.
“I think that’s the only thing we can do to stay tight as a team.”
Top try-scorer is back
Nathan Ross has scored four tries in eight appearances so far this season, but was a late withdrawal from the team last Sunday due to a hamstring injury in the warm up.
He has been named to play again this week, and will undoubtedly be an attacking threat on the left edge as the Knights’ leading try-scorer so far this season.
Ross has also averaged more metres (119) per game than any other Knight this season, and ranks second for linebreaks.
He has undoubtedly made the most of his opportunities in first grade.
Halves combination changes again
With Trent Hodkinson coming back in at halfback, the halves combination for the Knights has changed for the fourth time in 11 games.
With the likes of the Broncos and the Sharks having played the same halves pairing for every game so far this season, it has proved a challenge for the Knights.
Regardless, both Brock Lamb and Hodkinson are capable of providing the creative spark required, and will be hard at work on their combinations at training this week.
“I thought they did really well and both showed they have a great long-term future in the game,” Brown said of Lamb and Jack Cogger’s contribution last week.
“Trent did a rehab run yesterday and as expected it (his knee) was a lot better.
“I would have thought with what he did, things will work out favourably and that he will play.”
THE FINAL SAY
“I know the Tigers playing at Campbelltown are going to be ready for us, so we have to be ready for them as well,” Danny Levi said in a press conference.
“We believe that we can beat them, so we have to go out there and prove it.”