Ultimate Guide: Cowboys name Taumalolo replacement

The nib Newcastle Knights return to McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday afternoon for a must-win encounter against North Queensland.

Jason Taumalolo has been ruled out of the game due to a foot injury.

John Asiata will replace him at lock.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS

Date: Saturday, August 17

Kick-off: 3.00pm

Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played: 37

Knights: 19

Cowboys: 18

TEAMS

Newcastle

1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Kurt Mann, 3. Hymel Hunt, 4. Tautau Moga, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Mason Lino, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Connor Watson, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Mitch Barnett, 13. Josh King. Interchange: 14. Jacob Saifiti, 15. Herman Ese'ese, 16. Sione Mata'utia, 17. Aidan Guerra, 20. Jirah Momoisea, 21. Danny Levi

North Queensland

1. Scott Drinkwater, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Coen Hess, 4. Tom Opacic, 5. Jordan Kahu, 6. Michael Morgan (C), 7. Jake Clifford, 8. Matt Scott, 9. Jake Granville, 10. Jordan McLean, 11. Gavin Cooper, 12. Shane Wright, 15. John Asiata, Interchange: 14. Reuben Cotter, 16. Scott Bolton, 17.  Francis Molo, 18. Peter Hola, 20. Corey Jensen, 21. Murray Taulagi

SEASON ON THE LINE

Despite a run of losses over the past six weeks, the Knights remain in contention to feature in finals football.

Needing to win all four remaining matches while banking on other results falling in their favour, coach Nathan Brown will be stressing the importance of taking each match 80 minutes at a time.

Showing themselves capable of dominating opponents at various stages this season, look for Newcastle to play with plenty of passion as they strive to keep their top eight ambitions alive.

BACK IN THE HUNTER

For the first time during Nathan Brown’s tenure as Newcastle coach, the Knights will host North Queensland at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Most recently coming up against the Cowboys at home on ANZAC Day in 2015, the two teams have enjoyed a competitive rivalry in the Hunter with each side emerging with six wins apiece over the past 15 years.

ONCE A COWBOY, NOW A KNIGHT

Beginning his NRL career with North Queensland during the 2016 finals series, Newcastle fullback Kalyn Ponga will be out to claim victory over his former club on Saturday afternoon.

Playing nine matches with the Cowboys prior to making the highly publicised move to the Hunter, the 21-year-old has gone above and beyond initial expectations to represent Queensland and come within one vote of winning the Dally M Medal last year.

Going down 20-18 in Townsville when the two sides last clashed, look for Ponga to lift off the energy generated by the Newcastle faithful as he strives to keep the Knights in the hunt for the top eight.

KNIGHTS STAT ATTACK

Mason Lino has kicked 20 from 22 goals this season - including his past nine attempts in succession - for a 90.9 per cent success rate.

COWBOYS STAT ATTACK

The Cowboys have come from behind at halftime to win their past two clashes against the Knights.

CANTERBURY CUP

Knights v Mounties at McDonald Jones Stadium, 12.45pm Saturday.

JERSEY FLEGG

Knights v Bears at McDonald Jones Stadium, 11.05am Saturday.