NRL match preview: Round 13
After a week off the nib Newcastle Knights jump back on a plane for Round 13, as they travel to the cooler climate of Melbourne.
While Wednesday’s Origin match could potentially affect the final line-ups of both teams, the Knights will be hoping to get the two points against a side that they have enjoyed some success against in recent years.
MELBOURNE STORM v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Date: Friday June 2
Gates open: 5pm
Venue: AAMI Park
1. Dane Gagai, 2. Ken Sio, 3. Joe Wardle, 4. Peter Mata’utia, 5. Nathan Ross, 6. Brock Lamb, 7. Jaelen Feeney, 8. Daniel Saifiti, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Josh Starling, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 12. Mitch Barnett, 13. Luke Yates. Interchange: 14. Sam Stone, 15. Josh King, 16. Tyler Randell, 17. Jacob Saifiti, 18. Brendan Elliot, 19. Cory Denniss, 20. Trent Hodkinson, 21. Lachlan Fitzgibbon.
1. Billy Slater, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Cheyse Blair, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Tim Glasby, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14. Jordan McLean, 15. Joe Stimson, 16. Kenny Bromwich, 17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 18. Young Tonumaipea, 19. Slade Griffin, 20. Brandon Smith, 21. Mark Nicholls, 22. Ryley Jacks, 23. Jeremy Hawkins.
The Origin factor
It’s a short turnaround for several players in this match, as they play State of Origin less than 48 hours beforehand.
Dane Gagai for the Knights, and Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Will Chambers for Melbourne have been named to back up the Round 13 match.
Knights coach Nathan Brown has indicated Gagai will play for the red and blues unless he picks up an injury.
“I would expect if Gags is fit, for him to play and for him to play well,” Brown said on Tuesday.
“You rarely see blokes come out of Origin, play and not compete well.”
Battle of the giants
This week Jesse Bromwich returns from a two game club-imposed suspension for the Storm, but he will be coming up against an in-form Daniel Saifiti.
Saifiti is ahead of Bromwich in almost every key statistic for a prop, averaging 23 tackles a match to Bromwich’s 20, 0.64 offloads a match to Bromwich’s 0.43, and two tackle breaks a match to Bromwich’s one.
Bromwich is slightly ahead in run metres, averaging 112 to Saifiti’s 109, but it is still an impressive effort from the 20-year-old Knight who this season has more than held his own against one of the best props in the game.
The numbers that really matter will come this Friday though, and it will be a big challenge for Saifiti to get one over the former New Zealand captain.
“I will just focus in the middle and do my best job there,” Daniel said on Monday.
“They have got a big mobile forward pack, they’re aggressive as well and we need to match them in that area.”