Knights v Wests Tigers preview
Knights v Wests Tigers
Age is going to play a big part in deciding the victor of this Sunday afternoon clash.
In Newcastle you have a forward pack full of ageing warriors who haven't been up to scratch the past five weeks, having been downed by the teams who occupy the bottom three rungs of the ladder as well as the Dragons and Cowboys.
The youth of the Wests Tigers has been both a blessing and a curse for Jason Taylor's men, as one week they look like world-beaters and a shambles the next.
In a battle on for young and old, each team will be looking to bounce back following their heavy defeats in Round 9.
The Tigers remain unchanged, while the Knights bring Jack Stockwell back into the fold in place of Joe Tapine.
David Fa'alogo will celebrate his 50th game in Newcastle colours while Tigers prop Ava Seumanufagai will rack his 50th NRL game.
Watch out Knights: One of the first men set to be picked for New South Wales next week, Tigers prop Aaron Woods will be looking towards a huge game given he'll only being available to play at club level three times over the next eight weeks. Not that he needs motivation considering he is averaging 204.2 metres and 31.9 tackles per game this season.
Watch out Wests Tigers: While he came up with some very ordinary errors against the Sea Eagles, James McManus's 180 metres, two line breaks and try signalled Newcastle's intention to balance their ball shifts out wide. Any time Joey Leilua can get the ball out on the left edge is going to spell danger for opposition teams and it's no coincidence Tariq Sims had his best game in Knights colours to date last Sunday.
Key Match-Up: Jeremy Smith v Martin Taupau – No better match-up demonstrates the battle between youth and experience than the one between the opposite locks, Jeremy Smith and Martin Taupau. Smith, the second-eldest player in the NRL behind Rooster Willie Manu, will come up against the man nicknamed 'Kapow' who is a tick under 10 years his junior. With Smith's veteran instinct comes solid defence, but such is the enthusiasm of the 25-year-old Taupau in attack, an intriguing battle over who can extinguish each other's strengths looms.
The History: Played 19; Knights 9, Wests Tigers 10. These two teams have played each other just once in a season for the past seven which has definitely worked out better for this weekend's visitors. Since 2008, the Tigers have won five of their past seven meetings against Newcastle including a 23-20 victory the last time they met in Round 13, 2014.
What are the Odds: Punters aren’t exactly rushing in to back either side but there’s slightly more money on the Wests Tigers according to Sportsbet. Tigers and Knights have been both well backed at 1-12 suggesting a close game either way. Latest odds at Sportsbet.com.au.
Match Officials: Referee – Gavin Badger; Assistant Referee – Ashley Klein; Sideline Officials – Nick Beashel and Tim Roby; Video Referees – Jared Maxwell and Steve Folkes.
Televised: Channel Nine (Live) – 3:30pm
The Way We See It: The Knights need to win this one. They have been poor in four of the five games they have lost in their current streak of defeats, but surely enough is enough for Rick Stone and his men. Considering the Tigers' heavy 32-point defeat to the Roosters too, it's a good time for Newcastle's experienced stars to kick the youthful Tigers while they're down. Knights by eight points.