NRL match preview: Round 20

The nib Newcastle Knights showed plenty of determination against the Brisbane Broncos last weekend, but it wasn’t quite enough in the end.

This week the Novocastrians come up against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium.

SYDNEY ROOSTERS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

Date: Friday July 21
Gates open: 3.30pm
Kick-off: 6pm
Venue: Allianz Stadium

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played: 49
Knights: 19
Roosters: 28
Drawn: 2

SQUADS

Knights
1. Nathan Ross, 2. Chanel Mata’utia, 3. Dane Gagai, 4. Peter Mata’utia, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Brock Lamb, 7. Trent Hodkinson, 8. Daniel Saifiti, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Josh King, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 12. Joe Wardle, 13. Mitch Barnett. Interchange: 14. Jamie Buhrer, 15. Mickey Paea, 16. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 17. Luke Yates, 18. Jack Cogger, 19. Sam Stone, 20. Ken Sio, 21. Brendan Elliot.

Roosters
1. Connor Watson, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Latrell Mitchell, 4. Joseph Manu, 5. Blake Ferguson, 6. Luke Keary, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. Jared Warea-Hargreaves, 9. Mitchell Cornish, 10. Dylan Napa, 11. Ryan Matterson, 12. Mitchell Aubusson, 13. Issac Liu. Interchange: 14. Kane Evans, 15. Siosiua Taukeiaho, 16. Aidan Guerra, 17. Victor Radley, 18. Zane Tetevano, 19. Grant Garvey, 20. Chris Smith, 21. Nat Butcher.

TALKING POINTS

Ex-Rooster to make his Knights debut

It was nearly a month ago now that Shaun Kenny-Dowall put pen to paper with the Knights, and red and blue fans will be excited to see him in action for the first time this week.

The imposing utility back has overcome a hamstring injury and will line up alongside Dane Gagai on the team’s right edge.

It’s a quirk of fate that the World Cup winner will be lining up against his old team in his Knights debut.

Having spent almost a decade at the Tricolors, Kenny-Dowall will be able to provide plenty of tips to his new teammates on how to overcome one of the competition frontrunners.

“I know the way they play and I know the place like the back of my hand, so I’m really looking forward to getting out there,” Kenny-Dowall said on Tuesday.

“We have had a few chats about the way they play, their strengths and some of their weaknesses so I’m really trying to help the team as much as I can.”

Injury depleted Roosters

While there’s never a good time to take on the Roosters, this week they will be without three of their most consistent performers.

Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend and Michael Gordon have all been ruled out through injury.

Knights fullback Nathan Ross says the Roosters will be a tough assignment regardless of who lines up on Friday.

“I’m not sure who the Roosters are going to put at fullback instead of Michael Gordon and with Jake Friend out, they might be a little disjointed,” Ross explained on Monday.

“But Trent Robinson is a great coach and they’ve got two good halves in Luke Keary and Mitchell Pearce.”

Staying in the grind

As the season has progressed, the team has been able to stay in the contest for longer against quality opposition.

Back in Round 7 the Knights took on the Roosters at home, and were trailing by six points for the majority of the match until the Roosters came up with two late tries to make the final score 24-6.

The red and blues are still experiencing small periods of inconsistent football where they concede too many points, which is something that needs to stop according to coach Nathan Brown.

“We have got to continue to start games well, finish off our half and start our second halves a little better than we have been,” he said.

“They have too many good players that will punish us otherwise.”

THE FINAL SAY

“Jacob Saifiti is injured now so we’re about five or six front rowers down at the moment,” Brown said on Tuesday.

“We are going to have to do something different there this week.”