Ultimate guide to Knights v Sharks trial

Newcastle Knights v Cronulla Sharks

Date: Saturday, March 2

Location: No. 1 Sportsground, Maitland

Time: 5.30pm (AEDT)

The nib Newcastle Knights will have their final pre-season hit-out on Saturday evening, as they take on their Round 1 opponents the Cronulla Sharks at Maitland No.1 Sportsground.

After going down to the Dragons, 18-10 last weekend in Wollongong, coach Nathan Brown has named a full-strength squad to help determine which 17 players will take the field for the season opener at McDonald Jones Stadium in a fortnight.

TEAMS

Newcastle

1. Connor Watson, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Jesse Ramien, 4. Sione Mata’utia, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Kalyn Ponga, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Danny Levi, 10. James Gavet, 11. Mitchell Barnett, 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 13. Tim Glasby. Interchange: 16. Herman Ese’ese, 15. Aidan Guerra, 17. Daniel Saifiti, 14. Kurt Mann, 18. Hymel Hunt.

Cronulla

1. Matt Moylan, 2. Sione Katoa, 3. Josh Dugan, 4. Josh Morris, 5. Sosaia Feki, 6. Shaun Johnson, 7. Chad Townsend, 8. Andrew Fifita, 9. Jayden Brailey, 10. Matt Prior, 11. Briton Nikora, 12. Kurt Capewell, 13. Paul Gallen. Interchange: 14. Jayson Bukuya, 15. Jack Williams, 16. Aaron Woods, 17. Scott Sorensen, 18. Bronson Xerri, 19. Kyle Flanagan, 20. Billy Magoulias, 21. Ronaldo Mulitalo, 22. Will Kennedy

LESSONS FROM LAST WEEK

While the final scoreboard went against the Knights last Saturday, the side will take plenty of positives from the result regardless.

Lining up in the red and blue for the first time in nearly six months, Kalyn Ponga’s positional shift only enhanced his lethal combination alongside Lachlan Fitzgibbon on the left edge.

Producing a try for his rampaging second rower and having a hand in another for Edrick Lee, the dynamic Dally M runner-up will be at the top of every opponent’s tip sheet if his first performance in the number six jersey is a sign of things to come.

With coach Nathan Brown stressing the importance of reducing infringements in the play the ball and ensuring last tackle plays are executed effectively, the opportunity to tune up ahead of the season opener should see the Knights better for the run.

NEW NUMBER ONE

After spending last season alongside Mitchell Pearce in the halves, Connor Watson will be looking to build upon his strong showing in the number one jersey against the Dragons.

Solid under the high ball and fielding kick returns with confidence, the 22-year-old Country representative has started at fullback just four times before this season, yet as a result of his strong support play and versatility, the former Roosters utility has earned comparisons to legendary Knights captain Kurt Gidley.

Eager to replicate the feats of one of Newcastle’s greatest ever players, Watson will be sure to make himself known wherever an offload is thrown, while drawing upon his experience tackling in the frontline to cut down opponents as the last line of defence.

BOLTERS FOR ROUND 1

Having pulled a host of surprise selections for the opening round over the past three years, coach Brown will be watching intently on Saturday night to see which players can make an impact under match conditions.

Debuting five rookies in his first match with the club three years ago, along with surprising many by starting Slade Griffin at hooker last year, the man in charge has shown himself willing to reward pre-season performers, while ensuring established players don’t rest on their laurels.

With competition for positions at a high rarely seen in recent times, expect to see every player put their best foot forward to ensure a place in the Round 1 team.

PREMIERSHIPS AREN’T WON IN MARCH

Every time a team takes the field the performance is important, but in trials the final scoreboard isn’t necessarily the sole priority.

With premiership success requiring hard work, player depth and a slice of luck with injuries, it’s important to keep perspective that results in March don’t determine which club will hold the Provan-Summons trophy aloft in October.

As last year’s 28-6 trial loss against Parramatta proved, a disappointing result can be made up for by the start of the regular season, while a big win can still see a side finish with the wooden spoon seven months later.

Supporters can anticipate an entertaining affair on Saturday night, but irrespective of the final score, expectations - both positive and negative - should be kept in check.

LIVE STREAM

Members and fans who can't get to the game, the NRL match will be live streamed on the Knights website from kick-off. Click here!

TICKETS

All Grandstand tickets are allocated seating and are the same price regardless of age. General Entry tickets allows you to sit anywhere on the grassed area with no ticket required for those 3 and under.

All children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Ticket must be purchased with an adult ticket.

Click here to make a purchase!

KEY TIMINGS

Gates Open: 8.45am

9:00am: Under 16’s Newcastle Knights Development Squad v Central Coast Roosters

10:30am: Under 18’s Newcastle Knights Development Squad v Central Coast Roosters

12:00pm: Tarsha Gale Cup v St George Illawarra Dragons

1:30pm: Jersey Flegg v Cronulla Sharks

3:15pm: ISP v Newtown Jets

NRL Kick Off: 5.30pm