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Ultimate Guide: NRL Round 18 Preview

The nib Newcastle Knights are back on the road after back-to-back sell outs at McDonald Jones Stadium, with a crucial Round 18 journey south to face the Raiders awaiting the squad this week.

Coming off the back of a thrilling win over the Eels in front of over 27,000 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium, the Knights will be looking to build into the back half of the season as the run to finals intensifies.

With both sides on 18 competition points with nine games remaining, the contest shapes as critical for both teams, in what is set to be Tyson Frizell's 250th NRL game.

Canberra Raiders vs Newcastle Knights  
Date: Sunday, July 7
Venue: GIO Stadium
NRL Kick Off: 4:05pm

The match will be shown live on Channel Nine, 9Now, Fox League and Kayo Sports.

Head to Head

Since: 1988

Played: 57

Knights: 26

Raiders: 30

Draws: 1

Team Lists

Team Lists


  • Fullback for Raiders is number 1 Kaeo Weekes
    Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
  • Winger for Raiders is number 2 Jordan Rapana
    Winger for Knights is number 2 Enari Tuala
  • Centre for Raiders is number 3 Matthew Timoko
    Centre for Knights is number 3 Dane Gagai
  • Centre for Raiders is number 4 Albert Hopoate
    Centre for Knights is number 4 Bradman Best
  • Winger for Raiders is number 5 Xavier Savage
    Winger for Knights is number 5 Greg Marzhew
  • Five-Eighth for Raiders is number 6 Ethan Strange
    Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Will Pryce
  • Halfback for Raiders is number 7 Adam Cook
    Halfback for Knights is number 7 Jackson Hastings


  • Prop for Raiders is number 8 Josh Papalii
    Prop for Knights is number 8 Daniel Saifiti
  • Hooker for Raiders is number 9 Tom Starling
    Hooker for Knights is number 9 Jayden Brailey
  • Prop for Raiders is number 10 Joseph Tapine
    Prop for Knights is number 10 Leo Thompson
  • 2nd Row for Raiders is number 12 Elliott Whitehead
    2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
  • 2nd Row for Raiders is number 15 Ata Mariota
    2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Kai Pearce-Paul
  • Lock for Raiders is number 13 Morgan Smithies
    Lock for Knights is number 18 Mat Croker


  • Interchange for Raiders is number 14 Danny Levi
    Interchange for Knights is number 14 Fletcher Sharpe
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 16 Trey Mooney
    Interchange for Knights is number 15 Jacob Saifiti
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 17 Simi Sasagi
    Interchange for Knights is number 16 Brodie Jones
  • Interchange for Raiders is number 20 Emre Guler
    Interchange for Knights is number 17 Dylan Lucas


  • Replacement for Raiders is number 18 Sebastian Kris
    Replacement for Knights is number 19 Jack Hetherington

Match Officials

  • Referee: Gerard Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Matt Noyen
  • Touch Judge: Jon Stone
  • Senior Review Official: Kasey Badger

Last updated:

Team News

In massive news, Kalyn Ponga will return to the squad and captain the side at fullback.

His return sees Fletcher Sharpe shift to the interchange bench, with Jayden Brailey starting at hooker in place of Phoenix Crossland, who is absent due to the mandatory 11-day concussion stand-down.

Dylan Lucas also returns and will start from the bench, while Leo Thompson will start up front after being a late scratching last week.

As for the Raiders, former Knight Simi Sasagi replaces Jordan Martin on the interchange bench, with Martin ruled out due to concussion protocols. Sebastian Kris has been named 18th man. 

Form Guide

With the Knights coming off a thrilling 34-26 win over Parramatta, confidence will be sky-high in the Newcastle camp.

Five-eighth Will Pryce enjoyed an incredible debut in the No.6 jumper, scoring a try and kicking well in an eye-catching first game, while Bradman Best was equally destructive out wide in a two-try performance.

Greg Marzhew got himself back on the scoresheet with a brace of his own, with the Saifiti brothers also impressing up front.

The win took the Knights just one win out of the top eight, with the Club currently sitting in 11th place.

Match Highlights: Knights v Eels

Meanwhile, the Green Machine are coming off a tough run of games, with Ricky Stuart's men dropping their last three games to the Cowboys, Tigers and Storm.

Those defeats have left the side 12th on the NRL ladder.

Key Match Up

Ethan Strange vs Will Pryce

These two young guns will be absolutely critical to their respective side's chances on Sunday afternoon.

Pryce will be looking to build on his impressive debut in the No.6 jumper last week, while Strange has been a revelation for the Raiders in the absence of Jack Wighton this year.

Strange has notched two tries and six try assists so far this year, while Pryce opened his account last week with a try, two line breaks and 98 run metres.

Will Pryce Try

Stat Attack

  • Knights second-rower Tyson Frizell will play his 250th NRL game.
  • Jordan Rapana has scored six tries in as many games against the Knights at GIO Stadium.
  • Bradman Best has run for over 560 metres in his last two games.

Watch at Wests

If you're not travelling to Canberra, the best place to watch the game is Wests New Lambton!

You can watch the game live and loud on the big screen, with Full Members enjoying a $5 Happy Hour from 4-6pm.

Not a member? Social membership is free and ensures seamless club entry pre and post-game, and you can sign up online today.