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Head to Head: Owning the middle and bench spark

Three consecutive losses. There’s no way to sugar-coat it.

For Knights fans, it's a tough pill to swallow.

Only a few weeks ago, the idea of a top four finish was on the table.

A tough loss to the Sydney Roosters in Round 18 has certainly diminished the odds.

If there is one message the playing group has for the Knights faithful, it is this; rally behind us now, because our best days are ahead.

Similarly, the Wests Tigers are currently feeling the long rugby league winter’s cold and are desperate to bounce back off a three game losing streak.

Added motivation for the boys from the western suburbs is Robbie Farah’s 300-game milestone this week, however if Shaun Kenny-Dowall’s press conference is anything to go by, Farah’s celebrations at McDonald Jones Stadium will be short-lived.

The Knights boys only have one thing on the mind, and it’s raining on Robbie’s parade and making Beanie for Brain Cancer Round a winner.

And we have the tools and the means to do exactly that.

Ponga v Thompson

Corey Thompson has proved himself a dominant fullback option for the Wests Tigers in 2019.

Despite lacking in stature, the nimble No.1 hasn’t shied from taking on the opposition line.

Having recorded 73 tackle breaks and 10 line breaks (KP: 60 and 11) this season, Thompson’s pizzazz and flair kept ex-teammate Malakai Watene-Zelezniak out of the jersey, and ultimately forced him out of the side.

Kalyn Ponga’s best work is near the line.

It’s no secret his ability to engage the line and see a teammate through has gotten the team results in 2019.

Dubbed the ‘human highlight reel’, Ponga has clocked up 8 try assists, and scored 7 himself, equalling Hymel Hunt as the Club’s leading try-scorer.

Klemmer v Aloiai

If there is one thing that can be said about the six-game winning streak the Knights racked up this season, it is that they consistently won the battle through the middle.

Even in a devastating loss last week, the Knights forward pack was competitive, and David Klemmer’s monstrous 70-minute effort was testament to the effort.

The Knights workhorse has stomped out 2472 run metres, and a staggering 913 post contact. That number alone is enough to make most middle forwards gulp.

Josh Aloiai will have his hands full taking on Klemmer and the Knights forward pack.

Aloiai has run for 1424 metres, 527 of those post-contact.

Watson v Liddle

The 14 role can make or break the momentum of a team.

The Knights will be banking on the dynamic Connor Watson making an impact off the bench on Friday night, much like he has many times this season.

Watson’s versatility has seen him in the one, six and nine this season and his explosive power and speed make him a crucial piece to puzzle.

Watson’s counterpart, Jacob Liddle predominately plays hooker in the Tigers' Canterbury Cup side and offers solid relief for Robbie Farah at rake.

Liddle has recorded 389 run metres and 7 tackle breaks in 9 games, whereas Watson has run for 1523 metres and recorded a whooping 67 tackle breaks in 15 games.