The nib Newcastle Knights will travel to play a massive game against the top-of-the-table Penrith Panthers this Thursday night at BlueBet Stadium.
The Knights are fresh off a last-ditch victory against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks last Friday and will vie for a huge two points against the ladder leaders.
Penrith haven't put a foot wrong so far in the 2021 campaign with six wins from six including a 20-12 win away to Brisbane last start.
The two coaches, Adam O'Brien and Ivan Cleary, have named their respective sides to open Round 7 proceedings.
This is your Ultimate Guide to the Newcastle Knights Round 7 fixture against the Penrith Panthers, brought to you by Mine Super.
PENRITH PANTHERS V NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Date: Thursday 22nd April, 2021
NSW Cup: 5:30pm
Gates Open: 5:15pm
Venue: BlueBet Stadium
AOB: Effort areas and focus switches to Panthers
21. Dylan Edwards, 2. Charlie Staines, 1. Stephen Crichton, 4. Matt Burton, 5. Brian To'o, 6. Jarome Luai, 7. Nathan Cleary (c), 8. Moses Leota, 9. Mitch Kenny, 10. James Fisher-Harris, 11. Viliame Kikau, 12. Kurt Capewell, 13. Isaah Yeo (c). Interchange: 14. Tyrone May, 15. Spencer Leniu, 16. Matt Eisenhuth, 17. Liam Martin. 18th man: Robert Jennings
Coach: Ivan Cleary
1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Starford To'a, 3. Enari Tuala, 4. Bradman Best, 5. Brayden Musgrove, 6. Kurt Mann, 7. Blake Green, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Jayden Brailey (c), 10. Daniel Saifiti (c), 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Mitch Barnett, 13. Connor Watson. Interchange: 14. Sauaso Sue, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Josh King, 17. Brodie Jones. 18th man: 20. Gehamat Shibasaki.
Coach: Adam O'Brien
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Panthers coach Ivan Cleary has been forced into a change following an unhappy outing at the judiciary last night.
Centre Paul Momirovski comes out of the side due to suspension.
Dylan Edwards returns to the team at fullback with Stephen Crichton moving back to the centres.
Meanwhile, Newcastle coach Adam O'Brien confirmed Phoenix Crossland and Simi Sasagi as the two players to drop off the extended bench 24 hours prior to kick off.
Gehamat Shibasaki will be the 18th man.
Starford To'a has come back onto the wing in place of the injured Hymel Hunt in the only change to the team which overcame Cronulla last week.
Enari Tuala shifts back to centre, last Friday's debutant Brayden Musgrove has retained his spot on the wing and Brodie Jones will come off the bench in jersey 17.
The promising result against the Sharks snapped a three-game barren run for the Knights to put them onto six points and 10th on the ladder on points differential.
The red and blue sit equal with Canberra, the Warriors and the Gold Coast with three wins and three losses.
As mentioned, Penrith have shot out of the gates to lead the pack after six rounds.
The Panthers have been the dominant side in the opening rounds of the NRL which included crucial wins over Melbourne and the Raiders.
The Knights will be required to rise to the challenge of facing Penrith at their fortress where they haven't lost since mid 2019 and only conceded 20 points in the three fixtures at BlueBet stadium this season.
BATTLE AT THE FOOT OF THE MOUNTAINS
The Knights will draw motivation from the effort produced the last time they played the Panthers.
Suffering from an horrific injury toll and down 14-4 in Round 3 of last season, the Knights wouldn't accept defeat.
Two Bradman Best tries got the team back into the ball game and set up a classic finish.
Newcastle fought hard and came away with a 14-all draw.
The game is regarded as one of the hardest fought games in recent Knights history.
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The Knights will need to stop the destructive Brian To'o who has posted the most post contact metres in the NRL this season with 545 metres.
Newcastle sit equal third on set completion average with 80% over the first six games.
Penrith are aiming for 22 straight regular season wins.
The Knights have made 370 support plays and sit third in the NRL.
Newcastle hold the superior lead with 24 wins to the Panthers 22 in the record stakes.