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Head to head: Game changers and big lad battle


There may be plenty of uncertainty with players post-Origin, but a win against the ladder leaders could be the anchor for a resurgence from the Newcastle Knights.

Let’s be honest… the record is not great against the bunnies. They’ve won the last nine. Last time the Knights came out with a win was 2011.

But with five games on the trot and unbelievable form from key playmakers, the Knights are looking more and more likely to get the job done.

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The bunnies will be writhing after a loss to the Eels last week, so the Knights need to throw everything at them…. With or without Kalyn Ponga and Dave Klemmer.

But don’t worry the matchups are still worthy!

Pearce v Reynolds

Mitchell Pearce and Adam Reynolds are the game changers.

Their leadership out on the field could very well determine who takes out this blockbuster on Friday.

In the stat world they’re both killing it. These names a frequent feature in the NRL’s top five lists.

Pearce = 1st line break assists (12), 1st all kicks (160), 3rd kick metres (4117), 5th try assist (8)

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Reynolds = 1st goals (49), 1st kick metres (4705), 2nd all kicks (159), 3rd scoring (106 pts)

Captain Pearce has blitzed it in the Knights last five matches with five tries recorded. Reynolds has two.

One matchup you’ll be counting down the seconds for.

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Saifiti v Burgess (G)

The battle of the big lads.

Daniel Saifiti and George Burgess are the heavyweights for their sides and will be looking to use that to exert dominance in the middle.

While both have played nine games this season, Saifiti has racked up a lot more minutes at 384 to Burgess’ 264 minutes.

Saifiti has Burgess covered in the run metres department. Dan has 798 metres, George 724.

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But the Burgess brother is proving a little trickier to handle with 11 tackles breaks to Saifiti’s 3, while the Fijian international has notched up a few more tackles at 203 with a better efficiency rate of 91 per cent.

Expect some hard running and bone-crunching hit-ups from these two.

Fitzgibbon v Burgess (S)

Lachlan Fitzgibbon may be younger and less experienced compared to Sam Burgess, but there’s no doubting he has the red and blue ticker to make an impact this Friday.

The bunnies captain, who will play against the Knights before going under the knife for shoulder surgery, loves to score and has added six tries to his tally so far this season. Fitzgibbon has 2.

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Hard as nails, the oldest Burgess makes the NRL’s top five for all runs and comes third in the league for post contact metres at 611. He can also add a try save to his name this season.

Fitzgibbon on the other hand has tallied up a respectable 288 tackles at an impressive 93 per cent efficiency and 22 tackle breaks.

Forget the backs…. These forwards are the ones to stop in their pursuit of the line