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Four key insights into our NRL Draw

So, there it is.

After two months in the sporting wilderness, the NRL officially has a draw set in stone for the opening two rounds of the re-started competition.

The nib Newcastle Knights will play Penrith and Canberra in the opening two weeks, with both games shaping to be critical in the context of our season.

Here's four key insights from today's announcement.

View the full fixture list for rounds three and four here.

Sydney home games no problem for Knights

Free-to-air fixtures

In a win for Knights fans everywhere, both games have been scheduled for 4:05pm on consecutive Sunday afternoons, and will be broadcast live on Channel Nine.

With our round two match against the Tigers also being in the coveted Sunday time-slot, Knights fans will have had the pleasure of watching their team live and free for three out of the first four rounds.

We can all agree, that's a win for all involved.

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Canberra challenge looms large

The round four clash with Canberra looms as our biggest yet.

The green machine have looked at their dominant best so far in 2020, replicating the form which took them to the big dance last year.

They are also the first team the Knights have faced who finished in last year's top eight, and present the biggest challenge yet for Adam O'Brien and his men.

Venues TBC

A huge part of the challenge of playing the Raiders away is the tough trip down the Federal Highway.

The trip out the M4 to Penrith is equally as daunting for travelling sides.

However, with match venues for both games still to be confirmed, the Knights could be gifted the huge advantage of games being played both without fans, and at neutral venues.

This would be instead of being up against the boisterous home crowds they would normally be greeted by.

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A huge test

With the reduction of the season to 20 rounds, every game matters that little bit more.

With Kalyn Ponga (one-match suspension), Jayden Brailey (ACL) and Mitch Barnett (back) sidelined, the Knights will face an enormous test if they are to stay unbeaten through these first two rounds.

Both the Panthers and Raiders are yet to lose a game this season, and will be fighting to keep their unbeaten runs in tact.

Either way, the Knights will face their biggest challenge of 2020 so far throughout the next two rounds.