The nib Newcastle Knights head to regional New South Wales on Sunday afternoon to take on the St George Illawarra Dragons at Glen Willow Oval in Mudgee.
The Club is chasing four consecutive wins for the first time since 2015.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Date: Sunday, May 19
Venue: Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee
1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Hymel Hunt, 4. Jesse Ramien, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Connor Watson, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Mitch Barnett, 13. Tim Glasby. 14. Kurt Mann, 15. Herman Ese'ese, 16. James Gavet, 17. Sione Mata'utia, 18. Josh King, 19. Pasami Saulo, 20. Jamie Buhrer, 21. Mason Lino
St George Illawarra
1. Matt Dufty, 2. Jordan Pereira, 3. Zac Lomax, 4. Tim Lafai, 5. Mikaele Ravalawa, 6. Jai Field, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. James Graham, 9. Cameron McInnes, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Tariq Sims, 13. Blake Lawrie. 14. Jeremy Latimore, 15. Euan Aitken, 16. Jacob Host, 17. Luciano Leilua, 18. Mitch Allgood, 19. Jonus Pearson, 20. Josh Kerr, 21. Korbin Sims
BACK TO THE BUSH
Clocking up plenty of frequent flyer points following trips to New Zealand and Brisbane, Newcastle will round out three weeks on the road with a visit to the country town of Mudgee.
Serving as only their second premiership match in regional New South Wales over the past three decades, the Knights will be hoping for a similar result to last year’s clash against the Wests Tigers in Tamworth, where an inspired kick from Jamie Buhrer to Shaun Kenny-Dowall saw the side prevail with a last-gasp 22-20 win.
With several players holding close ties to the area, the match will hold extra significance for Jesse Ramien having played his junior football in the Western Region with the Coonamble Bears, while Connor Watson was born in Dubbo prior to relocating to the Central Coast as a child.
After being cruelled by Corey Norman’s left boot in Golden Point earlier this season, the Knights will be out for payback on Sunday afternoon as they fight to finish the weekend inside the top eight pending other results.
Winning just one of their past nine clashes against the Dragons since 2015, expect coach Nathan Brown to stress the importance of handling the closing stages more effectively, after coming up short six weeks ago, 13-12, in Newcastle.
With State of Origin just around the corner, plenty of Newcastle players will be pushing their claims for inclusion in rugby league’s fiercest rivalry.
Leading from the front in New South Wales series victory last year, David Klemmer looks set to retain his place in the Blues’ front-row, while after an eye-catching debut in Game II, Kalyn Ponga shapes as the man most-likely to inherit Billy Slater’s number one jersey for the Maroons.
Among the other candidates hoping to impress Brad Fittler and Kevin Walters, aspiring debutants Jesse Ramien and Edrick Lee have made strong cases over the first nine rounds, incumbent Queensland prop Tim Glasby looks set to retain his place on the bench, while Mitchell Pearce’s form over the past three weeks has seen the halfback make a late play for a representative recall.
KNIGHTS STAT ATTACK
Danny Levi played the full 80 minutes against the Bulldogs - only the fifth time he has gone the distance in his NRL career.
DRAGONS STAT ATTACK
Cameron McInnes leads the NRL for tackles (429), while Jordan Pereira ranks just behind James Tedesco with 54 tackle breaks over the first nine rounds.
Knights v Dragons at Henson Park, 3.30pm Sunday.
All Jersey Flegg teams have the bye.