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nib Newcastle Knights forward Mitch Barnett believes solid defence is key in Saturday’s clash against the St George Illawarra Dragons.

The 23-year-old, who averages the highest number of tackles for the Knights each game, said it will be important to stop their forward pack.

“They have got one of the best packs in the comp so we need to show up there in the middle this week and stick to the game plan,” explained Barnett.

“When we played them last time, (Russell) Packer and (Leeson) Ah Mau tore through us and got the momentum going forward.

“We need to show up there in the middle, that’s where it starts with us and we need to do a number on them and the rest will hopefully fall into place.”

With an average of 36 tackles every game, Barnett said he hopes to continue to be a force in the middle for the Knights this weekend.

“I feel alright, the body is starting to get used to it and I feel like I’m doing a little bit less work now that we’re contributing a lot more as a team,” stated Barnett.

“It is probably working a bit smarter, not harder, and now that I am starting to get my game management right, I feel like I’m going better as a player and we’re also going better as a team.”

Barnett admits while they have moved forward from their defeat against the Dragons in Round 16, where they gave up an 18-point lead at half time, there’s been review to fix what went wrong.

“We moved on from that game but obviously, we are still looking back to see what we can do," he said.

“We really want to build off the last couple of games we’ve had defensively, we’ve really stood up defensively even though the last one didn’t show.

“We want to stick to our game plan and stick to our processes and if we do that, I feel like we’ll get a result.”

The Knights are back on home soil for Round 21. NYC kick-off at 10.45am, before ISP at 12.40pm and NRL action at 3pm.