NRL match preview: Round 12

It's becoming desperate times for the nib Newcastle Knights, as they currently sit on three consecutive losses.

The gap to the top eight is still only two points, but the team needs to snap its losing streak soon if it wants to stay a contender.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v CRONULLA SHARKS


Date: Sunday May 27
Gates: 11.30am
Kick-off: 2pm
Venue: Beanie for Brain Cancer Stadium
Referee: Jon Stone

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played: 50
Knights: 27
Sharks: 22
Drawn: 1

TEAMS

Newcastle
1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Ken Sio, 3. Sione Mata'utia, 4. Nathan Ross, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Connor Watson, 7. Jack Cogger, 8. Herman Ese'ese, 9. Slade Griffin, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Mitch Barnett, 13. Aidan Guerra. Interchange: 14. Danny Levi, 15. Chris Heighington, 16. Jamie Buhrer 17. Josh King, 18. Jacob Lillyman, 19. Luke Yates, 20. Cory Denniss, 21. Brent Naden.

Sharks
1. Josh Dugan, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Jesse Ramien, 4. Ricky Leutele, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Matt Moylan, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Jayden Brailey, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Luke Lewis, 12. Wade Graham, 13. Paul Gallen. Interchange: 14. Joseph Paulo, 15. James Segeyaro, 16. Ava Seumanufagai, 17. Jayson Bukuya, 18. Kurt Capewell, 19. Jack Williams, 20. Sosaia Feki, 21. Braden Uele.

FORM TEAM


While last week the red and blues took on a team that had lost five in a row, this week they take on a side that has won five in a row.

The Sharks are in commanding form at the moment and make for formidable opposition this weekend.

The Knights have scored more points than the Sharks in 2018, but they've also conceded a whopping 95 more.

If the red and blues are to compete in this game they need to clean up their defensive act, and fast.

DEFENCE


Defence is something that takes time to improve, but for the Knights the problem hasn't been conceding a large amount of tries over the 80 minutes.

More often than not the side has been giving away a glut of points at crucial moments, with the final 15 minutes against the Titans last week a case in point.

That points to a lack of concentration in crucial moments, which can be fixed.

The Sharks rank fifth in the competition for errors, so a strong defensive effort would see them struggle to score points.

Matt Moylan is also a player that the team will no doubt be targeting, as he tops the NRL for handling errors.

BEANIE FOR BRAIN CANCER ROUND


This weekend sees the return of Beanie for Brain Cancer Round in 2018, an initiative that the Knights helped grow back in 2015 when they created their own Round for the Mark Hughes Foundation.

This year the team will also be wearing a special jersey to mark the occasion, complete with Mark Hughes playing number (#108) on the back of the collar.

Hughes has spent plenty of time with the current squad behind the scenes, and they will be motivated to put in a good performance for him, as well as the red and blue crowd at Beanie for Brain Cancer Stadium.

Beanies will be available for $20 at the Club Shop and merchandise outlets around the ground on Sunday.

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