The nib Newcastle Knights host the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in Friday Night Football at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Looking to bounce back following last Saturday night’s narrow 24-20 loss to the Warriors, coach Nathan Brown has named Mitchell Pearce to back up from Wednesday's State of Origin decider.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Date: Friday, July 12
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
Round 17 team projection
Ramien: Chasing ball and bouncing back
1. Connor Watson, 2. Hymel Hunt, 3. Kurt Mann, 4. Jesse Ramien, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Mason Lino, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. James Gavet, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Josh King, 11. Jamie Buhrer, 12. Sione Mata'utia, 13. Herman Ese'ese. Interchange: 14. Jacob Saifiti, 15. Pasami Saulo, 16. Phoenix Crossland, 17. Aidan Guerra, 18. Tautau Moga, 19. David Klemmer, 20. Daniel Saifiti, 21. Tim Glasby, 22. Brodie Jones, 23. Chris Randall
1. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, 2. Nick Meaney, 3. Marcelo Montoya, 4. Will Hopoate, 5. Reimis Smith, 6. Brandon Wakeham, 7. Jack Cogger, 8. Aiden Tolman, 9. Michael Lichaa, 10. Dylan Napa, 11. Josh Jackson, 12. Corey Harawira-Naera, 13. Chris Smith. Interchange: 14. Adam Elliott, 15. Renouf To'omaga, 16. Ofahiki Ogden, 17. Sauaso Sue, 19. Jeremy Marshall-King, 20. Fa'amanu Brown, 21. Kerrod Holland, 22. Danny Fualalo
Getting through the representative period ranked sixth on the ladder, the Knights will be out to make a statement over the final nine home-and-away rounds.
With just four home matches remaining before the play-offs, the side will fancy their chances of featuring beyond the regular season for the first time in six years.
Afforded a run home with no interstate travel and just two clashes against teams ranked higher on the ladder, expect the side to build towards a tilt at the premiership title with a strong showing on Friday night.
RESPECTING THE OPPOSITION
Despite the Bulldogs managing just four wins so far this season, the Knights will need to remain focused on Friday night if they hope to come away with two competition points.
Chasing consecutive wins over the blue and whites for the first time in six years, coach Nathan Brown will be sure to remind the side of the dangers of underestimating the Bulldogs, having suffered a shock 36-16 loss at home just over 12 months ago.
The Knights will be sure to respect their opponents as they strive to give themselves the strongest chance of claiming a coveted top four finish.
Showing unwavering support through thick and thin in recent years, Newcastle supporters have flocked to McDonald Jones Stadium in 2019 to bask in the side’s renewed fortune.
Turning up regardless of conditions to cheer on the red and blue along with providing visiting teams with a hostile reception, supporters have played a major role in helping the club lead the way in attendances this season - averaging second only to Brisbane with over 20,000 per game.
Eyeing off a fifth crowd in excess of 20,000 this season, expect another healthy turnout to provide the team with an injection of energy whenever the “Newcastle” chant resonates around the stadium.
KNIGHTS STAT ATTACK
Levi: Second half intensity a 'problem area'
Samoan front-rowers James Gavet and Herman Ese’ese both made their NRL debuts with the Bulldogs - playing one match each for the club prior to joining the Knights.
BULLDOGS STAT ATTACK
The Bulldogs have won five of their past six appearances in Newcastle.
Knights v Bulldogs at McDonald Jones Stadium, 5.40pm Friday.
All Jersey Flegg teams have the bye.