The nib Newcastle Knights will take on their archrivals the Manly Sea Eagles at Lottoland on Sunday afternoon.
Eager to respond following last Saturday’s 32-20 loss to the North Queensland Cowboys, strike centre Bradman Best has been named to return after being quarantined under the NRL’s COVID-19 protocols and Pasami Saulo joins the 17.
Moses Suli (finger) returns in place of Brendan Elliot for the Sea Eagles and Martin Taupau moves into the starting side for Sean Keppie.
Abbas Miski and Haumole Olakau’atu drop out of the team named on Tuesday.
The two teams will compete for the Malcolm Reilly Cup, named in honour of the legendary Englishman who won premierships with the Sea Eagles as a player before coaching the Knights to their first premiership in 1997.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v MANLY SEA EAGLES
Date: Sunday, July 5
FOLLOW THE ACTION
If you can't catch the game on TV or radio, the Knights will be blogging the game at newcastleknights.com.au.
Sea Eagles: 33
1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Enari Tuala, 4. Bradman Best, 5. Hymel Hunt, 6. Kurt ann, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Sione Mata'utia, 13. Herman Ese'ese. Interchange: 14. Tex Hoy, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Aidan Guerra, 17. Pasami Saulo.
1. Reuben Garrick, 2. Jorge Taufua, 3. Brad Parker, 4. Moses Suli, 5. Tevita Funa, 6. Lachlan Croker, 7. Daly Cherry-Evans, 8. Addin Fonua-Blake, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Martin Taupau, 11. Joel Thompson, 12. Curtis Sironen, 13. Jake Trbojevic, 14. Cade Cust, 15. Jack Gosiewski, 16. Sean Keppie, 17. Taniela Paseka.
RESUMING THE RIVALRY
Coming into the contest in 5th and 8th respectively, Sunday’s clash shapes as another iconic chapter in the long-running feud between Newcastle and Manly.
Hoy: First try, roaming role, Manly rivalry
Facing the Sea Eagles in their very first trial match back in 1988, the two teams have staged some epic encounters over the years including the 2006 Qualifying Final, Mitchell Pearce’s golden point field-goal two years ago, and the immortal 1997 ARL Grand Final won via a Darren Albert try with seconds left on the clock.
Going down to the Sea Eagles in both clashes last year, the Knights will be looking to overcome a poor historical record at Lottoland where they have won just 3 times from 20 visits.
BATTLE OF THE BIG MEN
In a clash featuring plenty of tantalising match-ups across the park, the personal rivalry between David Klemmer and Addin Fonua-Blake will be worth the price of admission alone.
Evoking memories of Paul - “The Chief” - Harragon and Mark - “Spud” - Carroll with their on-field battles last season, the Australian hardman will have his sights set on taking down the Tongan enforcer while laying a strong platform for his teammates to capitalise upon.
Averaging 170 metres per game to rank among the most impactful front rowers in the league, Klemmer also holds the distinction for the most offloads this season (21).
D-Saf: Cowboys loss and season so far
SUNDAY AFTERNOON FOOTBALL
Returning to Sunday afternoon football for the fourth time this season, the Knights will have high hopes of continuing their strong form in the timeslot.
Coming away with premiership points against Wests Tigers (42-24), Penrith (14-14) and Canberra (34-18) earlier this season, the daytime conditions have allowed the likes of Kalyn Ponga, Edrick Lee and Bradman Best to make a big impact with the ball.
Averaging 30 points in attack - 10 points more than any other time-slot - coach Adam O’Brien will have the side prepared to take on a Manly outfit reeling for a disappointing showing against the Sharks seven days earlier.
Joey’s Rd.7 breakdown: Slow start, KP shutdown, handling errors
KNIGHTS STAT ATTACK
The Knights have won all their matches when leading at halftime this season.
Mitchell Pearce has won at Lottoland just once in his career.
SEA EAGLES STAT ATTACK
The Sea Eagles have won 8 out of 12 matches at Lottoland since Des Hasler returned to the club.
Former Newcastle hooker Danny Levi has averaged 35 tackles per game.
WHERE TO WATCH
Channel 9 and Fox League