Knights without Will Smith for Storm clash

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v MELBOURNE STORM
Round 5, 2012 NRL Premiership
Friday, March 30, 2012
NRL Kick-Off 7:30pm, NYC Kick-Off 5:15pm.
AAMI Park, Melbourne, VIC

Last Time They Met
Round 8, 2011 – Knights 12 Storm 46
The Knights were heavily defeated by the Storm in their only clash last year, and have conceded at least 46 points in their last three encounters with them.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS LINEUP
K Mann, J Allison, D Clacherty, C Mata’utai, G Connelly, A Pewhairangi ©, T Rouse, M Steele, A Clydesdale, P Vaivai, J Elias, C Chandler, T Sullivan
Bench: L Shipard, K Perkins, K Ma’a, J Hill

MELBOURNE STORM LINEUP
J Joass, Y Tonumaipea, D Solomona, R Kennar, R Pooley, M McGahan, B Hampton, J Wilson, B Tavu’i-Leota, K Davies, K Auva’a, D Britt, M Constantinou.
Bench:H Gideon, D Sironen, Z Moi Moi, S Powe-Hobbs.

These are two sides who are really at the top of their games, and it will be a very entertaining clash.

The Knights were very good against a strong Bulldogs outfit last week, attacking through the centre of the park early in the game, before spreading the ball to the edges as the defenders tired.

Will Smith and skipper Api Pewhairangi both dominated the Bulldogs, while Korbin Sims also impressed in the centre of the park.

For the Storm, Richard Kennar and Jarome Wilson both impressed as Melbourne just held on against the Roosters at home.

This week for the Knights, Smith and Sims will be missing, along with Kurt Warden, Nathan Clarke and Chad Redman as injuries have struck down the squad.

Pewhairangi moves into five-eighth, looking to again dominate his opposition and continue his, and the team’s, very good start to 2012.

The battle between fullbacks Kurt Mann and Jack Joass will also be very important in the result. Mann got heavily involved for the Knights last week, running for 112m from 11 hit-ups, with 7 tackle breaks.

With Pewhairangi moving to five-eighth, he will again have to stay involved to take pressure off the skipper, and act as another attacking threat at the line.

Joass wasn’t as influential last week, but still ran for 108m from 10 hit-ups at the back. Playing a similar style to that of the first grade squad, Joass’s role is highly important to the Storm’s attack, and he will need to be continually threatening the Knights defensive line for the Storm to be effective.

With both side’s looking to continue their impressive starts this will be a tight affair, and even though the Knights are missing a couple, they definitely have the depth to cover their key positions.