Newcastle Knights: The run home...

It’s bound to be interesting times in the Hunter as the Knights have been left in the lurch by the coach who cleaned out the club, causing a player and fan revolt, just a few years ago. <br><br>Brian Smith has walked out on the remainder of his contract to join the hapless Roosters next year, but he has vowed to give his best for the remainder of the season. After all it was ‘just business’, so why should his players feel aggrieved?<br><br>The reality, however, is that they may. But rest assured it won’t stop them trying. Captain Kurt Gidley wears the Newcastle jersey with pride and his team follow him into battle week after week against squads which may be considered stronger, but the Knights fight hard every week and are getting results.<br><br>They are 7-1 at home and have the fourth best defence in the competition, not to mention Gidley who is just about the fittest bloke in the NRL and playing like a man possessed. The Knights work hard and deserve to be where they are, having improved from 15th in '07 to 9th in '08. So will that equate to finals in '09? It certainly looks that way.<br><br><b>The Run home:</b> Sea Eagles (A), Roosters (H), Eels (A), Storm (H), Cowboys (H), Raiders (A), Panthers (H)<br><br>There aren’t a lot of easy games in that run, but the Knights should win their fair share of them and continue to defy the critics. Their round 21 clash with the Sydney Roosters which could be explosive.<br><br>Roosters players have been put on notice with a Smith cleanout on the cards, and they will look to impress their future coach when they take on his current team. It might be the most fight people see from the Roosters in the last few rounds and Newcastle will have to be ready for it - if they aren’t it could be the beginning of an end of season losing streak.<br><br><b>Players to Watch:<br>Kurt Gidley</b> – Inspirational, electric and unyielding. There isn’t much the Knights captain can’t do. He runs the ball more than any player in the comp, makes more metres too and if he wasn’t playing fullback we might wager he would make the most tackles. His combination with Isaac de Gois is deadly and we recommend opposing teams watch out for him from dummy half.<br><br><b>Akuila Uate </b>– Watch him…… if you can. This guy is faster than ‘the flash’ and with plenty of games now under his belt for the season, the speedster may just be ready to hit his straps. If the Knights are adventurous enough to get it wide to him early the amount of tries he could score in the run home may be exponential.<br><b><br>Predicted finish:</b> 5th