The nib Newcastle Knights travel to AAMI Park on Saturday afternoon to take on the Melbourne Storm in the match of the round.
Coming off a hard-fought 20-12 win over South Sydney last Friday, Newcastle will be chasing seven straight wins for the first time since 2001.
Kalyn Ponga has been named to return after being rested following Origin I.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v MELBOURNE STORM
Date: Saturday, June 15
Venue: AAMI Park
1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Hymel Hunt, 4. Jesse Ramien, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Kurt Mann, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. James Gavet, 9. Connor Watson, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Mitch Barnett, 13. Tim Glasby. Interchange: 14. Jamie Buhrer, 15. Herman Ese'ese, 16. Josh King, 17. Sione Mata'utia, 18. Mason Lino, 19. Pasami Saulo, 20. Jacob Saifiti, 21. Aidan Guerra
1. Jahrome Hughes, 2. Suliasi Vunivalu, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Marion Seve, 5. Josh Addo-Carr, 6. Cameron Munster, 7. Brodie Jones, 8. Jesse Bromwich, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11. Felise Kaufusi, 12. Kenneath Bromwich, 13. Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14. Brandon Smith, 15 Christian Welch, 16. Joe Stimson, 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen, 18. Justin Olam, 19. Tui Kamikamica, 20. Tino Faasuamaleaui, 21. Sandor Earl
VICTORY IN VICTORIA
The Knights are far from the only team to have struggled in Melbourne over the years, but in a sign of how hard wins have been to come by, only one current player has tasted victory at AAMI Park in red and blue colours.
Featuring in the centres while still a teenager when Newcastle last claimed victory in the Victorian capital with an inspired 20-6 showing late in 2015, Sione Mata’utia will be hoping his teammates can experience a similar thrill on Saturday afternoon by knocking off the competition leaders.
Winning just five of 22 matches in Melbourne over the past two decades across fixtures at Olympic Park, Colonial Stadium and AAMI Park, expect another strong showing from Newcastle as they chase seven straight wins for only the fourth time in the club’s history.
GOING THE DISTANCE
For as impressive as the Knights have been over the past six weeks, the challenge of toppling the Storm will require the side to reach new heights.
Struggling to produce an 80-minute performance against Melbourne in recent times, the Knights have been known to keep pace over the opening half, only to run out of gas in the second 40.
With Melbourne conjuring a number of late comebacks this season to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat at home, Newcastle will need to be consistent throughout the duration if they are to claim only their third win at AAMI Park this decade.
TO BEAT THE BEST
Since taking over as Newcastle coach in 2016, Nathan Brown has frequently referred to the Melbourne Storm as a benchmark for rugby league success.
Winning more games than anyone else over that period, reaching three consecutive grand finals and claiming a premiership in 2017, the Storm have proven too much for the Knights to contend with over their past six meetings.
However, after coming into the match off the back of six consecutive wins, the Knights will be ready to prove that they mean business by beating one of the best on their own turf.
KNIGHTS STAT ATTACK
Tim Glasby will face his former club for the first time on Saturday afternoon.
Kurt Mann and Hymel Hunt also previously played for Melbourne in the mid-2010s.
STORM STAT ATTACK
The Melbourne Storm have won nine of 11 clashes against the Knights at AAMI Park.
Knights v Magpies at Campbelltown Stadium, 1.10pm Sunday.
Knights v Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium, 3.10pm Sunday.