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Pearce v Benji key to Tigers fixture says Joey

Both are captains, veterans and premiership winners, and this weekend, the battle between Benji Marshall and Mitchell Pearce will be where the match is won and lost this Sunday according to nib Newcastle Knights legend Andrew ‘Joey’ Johns.

Pearce shone in the win over the Warriors with try assists to his name, plus a terrific kicking game that nullified any potential offence from the opposition.

Johns believed that if the Knights were to win at Leichhardt Oval, the Knights captain would again need to hold steady with the boot.

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“I think the game will come down, without a doubt, to the shootout between Benji Marshall and Mitchell Pearce,” Johns said.

“How they control the game, how they’re kicking game is.

“It’s hard to line these two teams up on paper, because on paper they look very similar…the forwards pack even up.”

Parts of both teams’ game in Round One impressed the Eighth Immortal, particularly the poise of Marshall from halfback, while the shutout defence from the Knights also caught his eye.

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Defence looks to continue being the main focus for the Knights going forward, but Joey suggested that Pearce and his side may also be able to use the lack of home fans to their advantage in order to silent Marshall.

“His [Marshall] control was just dynamite,” he said.

“It’s a big advantage for the Knights having no crowd at Leichhardt.

“Maybe with no crowd, it may open up the game and lessen the intensity a little bit. What Mitchell does with that go forward is going to be interesting.

“I thought the Knights really defended well last week. You can see the fingerprints of Adam O’Brien on the team.”