Head to head: Big names ready for battle

There’s no doubt the Newcastle Knights will be the underdogs in this week’s clash with heavyweights, the Sydney Roosters.

The Roosters may have won three more games this season than the Knights, but Newcastle are sitting just three spots lower on the ladder.

Defeating the reigning premiers will be a massive feat, and history has shown the Roosters have dominated.

Last time Newcastle won against the Roosters it was 2014… six straight games they’ve claimed victory since then, although the last encounter they only edged ahead by two points.

The big name match-ups will be an absolute thriller… so let’s take a look!

Ponga v Tedesco

Intensity… speed… passion… These two are excitement machines.

They have the stats to prove it! Kalyn Ponga and James Tedesco are both smashing the numbers competition wide and make it look easy!

The Roosters fullback has earned first in the NRL for line breaks and tackle breaks and second for run metres at 1772. Meanwhile the Knights no. 1 is second in the league for points with 37 goals and six tries and coming in fifth for line breaks.

Tedesco can take bragging rights with one more try and two try saves, but unusual for their position Ponga has been praised for his defensive efforts… with 70 tackles to Tedesco’s 36.

One worrying statistic for Tedesco is his handling errors. He is first in the league with 16, a chance the Knights could take advantage of.

Riveting entertainment… yes please!

Pearce v Cronk

All eyes will be glued on these two for Friday’s game.

Cooper Cronk has just announced his retirement from a glowing career. Meanwhile Mitchell Pearce is playing some of the best football we’ve seen him produce… so good he’s equal second in Dally M voting.

Past games have shown that when Pearce fires, so do the Knights. Four tries in the last four games and four wins on the trot to the red and blue.

The Knights captain has also featured in numerous top spots for his efforts on the field. First in the NRL for line break assists, second in all kicks and third in kick metres at a whopping 3628. Pearce can also boast an impressive seven try assists.

Despite less time on the field, nearly 200 minutes less, Cronk’s leadership is a danger to his opponents. Five try assists, 2771 kick metres, 1 40/20 and a try save.

Can’t wait to see how these two game veterans steer their sides for Round 11.

Fitzgibbon v Crichton

Similar in age… minutes played and even stats, there’s not too much separating the two second rowers.

Lachlan Fitzgibbon sets the bar for run metres. 118 runs at 1002 metres and a note-worthy 325 post contact metres, as well as consistently solid in the tackle department at 92 per cent efficiency.

Angus Crichton however is no stranger to hard work. He’s notched up 336 tackles and a respectable 27 tackle breaks.

And while forwards aren’t known to find the line as frequently as some of their team mates, both have known to do it with ease if the right ball comes their way. Two tries a piece.