The nib Newcastle Knights will travel to play the North Queensland Cowboys this Thursday night in a giant game for both teams at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
The Knights slumped to a 36-18 loss to the Wests Tigers last start at Magic Round and will eye a valuable two points against the Cowboys.
North Queensland went down 30-16 to the Sydney Roosters and will also view the clash as a must-win occasion.
With both sides coming off disappointing losses and sitting just outside the top eight, it sets up a huge Thursday night encounter in North Queensland.
This is your Ultimate Guide to the Newcastle Knights Round 11 clash with the Cowboys, brought to you by Mine Super.
NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS v NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS
Date: Thursday May 20, 2021
Venue: Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville
AOB: Review of Tigers match, dealing with pressure and KP update
1. Valentine Holmes, 2. Kyle Feldt, 3. Javid Bowen, 4. Connelly Lemuelu, 5. Murray Taulagi, 6. Scott Drinkwater, 7. Jake Clifford, 8. Tom Gilbert, 9. Reece Robson, 10. Jordan McLean, 11. Shane Wright, 12. Mitchell Dunn, 13. Jason Taumalolo (c). Interchange: 14. Jake Granville, 15. Lachlan Burr, 16. Francis Molo, 17. Heilum Luki.
Coach: Todd Payten
6. Kurt Mann, 2. Starford To'a, 3. Enari Tuala, 18. Simi Sasagi, 5. Brayden Musgrove, 7. Phoenix Crossland, 21. Blake Green, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Jayden Brailey (c), 10. Daniel Saifiti (c), 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 13. Mitch Barnett. Interchange: 14. Connor Watson, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Sauaso Sue, 17. Brodie Jones.
Coach: Adam O'Brien
Head Coach Adam O'Brien has named his squad to take on the Cowboys.
The starting 17 is largely unchanged from the Magic Round defeat to the Tigers with the one change being Brayden Musgrove taking the place of Hymel Hunt on the wing.
Bradman Best was ruled out of the clash at the 24-hour squad update, forcing a backline re-shuffle which sees Kurt Mann shift from the halves to centre.
Experienced half Blake Green comes into the side for his first game since injuring his ribs against the Roosters, with Gehamat Shibasaki the other player to drop off the list.
For the Cowboys, Tom Gilbert comes into the run-on team in place of Coen Hess (concussion).
20-year-old Heilum Luki will make his debut off the bench, while Ben Condon and Kane Bradley are the players squeezed out for the 19-man squad update.
Brailey: Preparation on the Sunshine Coast and fixing inconsistencies
Newcastle endured a third loss in four starts with the defeat to the Tigers.
A slow start, which saw the side trail 24-4 at half-time, proved too costly as they slipped to 11th on the table.
After losing their opening four games, the Cowboys have won four of their last six to sit in 12th.
In similar fashion to the Knights, a poor first half cost the Cowboys against the Roosters having fought their way back into the contest only to eventually go down by 14 points.
The red and blue have won two of the past three fixtures against North Queensland, including a 12-0 result last season at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Mitch Barnett v Jason Taumalolo:
A colossal battle will take place in the middle of the park between our enforcer and one of the game's leading metre-eaters.
Barnett against Taumalolo promises to rock the stadium while the two forwards both played milestone games last round (Barnett's 100th and Taumalolo's 200th).
Barnett will look to continue his second-phase play having offloaded the ball 20 times so far this season to sit fifth in the league in that department.
Taumalolo has returned from an injury and was back to his best in games against Brisbane and the Roosters averaging 190 running metres.
Barnett: Attention to detail on tackle technique and Cowboys challenge
The Knights have only won one of their last eight games in Townsville however, hold the lead on the overall record count against the Cowboys.
The Knights and Cowboys have both scored 32 tries so far this season.
Jayden Brailey continues to lead the NRL tackle count with 517, averaging just over 51 tackles a game.
The Knights will look to exploit the North Queensland defence with the Cowboys sitting third for missed tackles in the NRL with 341 and first for ineffective tackles.
The Knights will need to contain Cowboys fullback Valentine Homes who sits second in the NRL for kick return metres with 656 metres.