The nib Newcastle Knights take on the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday evening in a must-win encounter for both teams.
Breaking a six-game losing streak with an emphatic 42-6 victory over North Queensland last Saturday, the Knights will be out for payback after being pipped 28-26 by the joint venture a month ago.
Coach Nathan Brown has named Danny Levi in the No.9 in place of the injured Connor Watson.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v WESTS TIGERS
Date: Saturday, August 24
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium
1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Hymel Hunt, 3. Sione Mata'utia, 20. Bradman Best, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Mason Lino, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Mitch Barnett, 13. Josh King. Interchange: 15. Herman Ese'ese, 16. Jacob Saifiti, 17. Aidan Guerra, 21. Tim Glasby, 18. Jamie Buhrer, 19. Chris Randall
1. Corey Thompson, 2. Robert Jennings, 3. Paul Momirovski, 4. Esan Marsters, 5. David Nofoaluma, 6. Benji Marshall, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Thomas Mikaele, 9. Josh Reynolds, 10. Oliver Clark, 11. Luke Garner, 12. Chris Lawrence, 13. Ryan Matterson. Interchange: 14. Matthew Eisenhuth, 15. Elijah Taylor, 16. Alex Twal, 17. Michael Chee-Kam, 18. Tommy Talau, 19. Chris McQueen
TAMING THE TIGERS
Locked on 20 competition points respectively, Saturday’s match will take on must-win stakes as the Knights and Tigers fight for a place in the finals.
Sitting one win outside the top eight, the Knights will have an added point to prove after suffering the heartache of going down to the Tigers at McDonald Jones Stadium a month ago.
Managing one win from their past five meetings against the joint venture, look for Newcastle to make a bold statement by ending the Tigers’ season in order to keep their own top eight aspirations alive.
Campbelltown Stadium may not hold significant reverence for modern Newcastle supporters, however the Western Sydney venue remains an important site in the Club’s history.
Recording their first ever win at the formerly known Orana Park back in 1988, the original Knights claimed a 20-16 victory over the Magpies with Brian Quinton holding the distinction of scoring the Club’s first try in the New South Wales Rugby League premiership.
Over the years the side has enjoyed other notable victories at the ground with Irish flyer Brian Carney sealing the deal during his sole season back in 2006, while a double from Tyrone Roberts saw recent Hall of Fame inductee Danny Buderus claim his maiden win as interim coach in 2015.
SIMPLY THE BEST
Set to become the second Newcastle player to make his NRL debut this season, highly rated outside back Bradman Best will be eager to make his mark after starring in the Club’s lower grades.
Producing a man of the match display with a hat-trick in the Jersey Flegg win over North Sydney last week, the NSW Under 18s representative only recently became eligible for first grade after turning 18 a fortnight ago.
Touring with the Australian Schoolboys last year, look for the Woy Woy product to put his “Best” foot forward on Saturday evening to keep the Knights in contention for a place in the top eight.
AVOIDING THE NUDIE RUN
As the year draws to a close, a select group of players will have additional motivation to make the final rounds count.
Known amongst the rugby league fraternity as the ‘nudie run’, eight Newcastle players have failed to score a try up to this point.
With just three matches remaining in the regular season, look for the likes of David Klemmer, the Saifiti brothers and last week’s milestone man Josh King to show extra enthusiasm with the line in sight as they look to open their try-scoring accounts before time runs out.
KNIGHTS STAT ATTACK
The Newcastle Knights have won three from eight against the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium.
Mason Lino has kicked his past 16 consecutive goals to hold a strike rate of 93 per cent - the highest percentage of any regular kicker in the premiership.
1997 Grand Final hero Darren Albert became the first Newcastle player to score four tries in a match against the Tigers in 2000.
TIGERS STAT ATTACK
Wests Tigers have won two of their past 10 matches at Campbelltown Stadium.
The Tigers recorded their greatest ever comeback against the Knights at Campbelltown Stadium in 2001 - coming from 24-0 after 26 minutes to win 36-32.
Knights v Rabbitohs at Maitland Sports Ground, 1.30pm Sunday.
Knights v Rabbitohs at Maitland Sports Ground, 12.00pm Sunday.