Knights fans celebrate with Willie Mason following the team's shock win over Melbourne in the 2013 finals series. Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
Knights v Dragons
Wayne Bennett's former club has become a bogy team for Newcastle. The Knights may have jumped past the 2010 premiers in the NRL pecking order but St George Illawarra's dominance in this clash has continued – the Dragons won 19-16 at Kogarah in Round 5 last season and handed the Knights another defeat, 14-8, at Hunter Stadium in Round 13.
The Knights' struggles against the Dragons aren't a recent phenomenon: Newcastle have won just 32.1 per cent of their matches against St George Illawarra – their lowest winning percentage against any team in the NRL era.
With the Dragons undergoing a transition period (they'll have a brand-new halves combination in 2014, and will be without the likes of Matt Cooper, Michael Weyman and Nathan Fien) the time is right for Newcastle to finally show their supremacy over Bennett's old team.
Knights v Sea Eagles
Manly's dominance in the early 1990s to Newcastle's unforgettable victory in the 1997 ARL Grand Final through to a string of fierce battles in the 2000s, this is a rivalry that has withstood the varying fortunes of both clubs.
The Knights and Sea Eagles have two of the older squads in the NRL and both surpassed expectations last season, with Newcastle reaching the final four and Manly knocking out South Sydney to play in yet another grand final.
Manly prevailed 32-0 in the only clash between the teams last season and Newcastle fans would love nothing more than to bring down their old foes when they meet again in 2014.
Knights v Storm
This game will be anticipated as much by Melbourne fans as by those in the red and blue, with the Storm out for revenge after being stunned by Newcastle in the preliminary finals last season. The Knights upset the critics by claiming a terrific victory in Melbourne that night, defying not just the Storm's home-ground advantage but also their recent dominance over Newcastle.
The Victorian club had won all of the seven previous matches between the sides, including a 16-14 win at AAMI Park in Round 14 and a 23-10 win at Hunter Stadium in Round 23. But Newcastle won when it mattered most last season and now have the knowledge they can beat the 2012 premiers anywhere, anytime, so 2014 could be the year to end that reign of Melbourne dominance once and for all.
Check back on NRL.com on Wednesday for details of your team's schedule with the release of the 2014 NRL Draw.