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Raiders v Knights: Pressure on Stuart's men

The Raiders were stunned by a Gold Coast Titans comeback last week and will be eager to make amends against a Knights team riding high from a golden point win over Manly.

The Knights were everybody's feelgood story of round one, but they have to re-produce the same form away from home if they are going to emerge as a genuine top eight contender.

Conquering the Raiders on their own turf would certainly raise eyebrows.

The selections

Raiders: Back-rower Joseph Tapine is out with a broken finger, so Luke Bateman will start at lock in his place. Charlie Gubb will make his club debut after he was named on the bench. Iosia Soliola remains at prop with Junior Paulo on the bench. 

Knights: Remain unchanged after a narrow win over the Sea Eagles. 

The key match-up: The battle of the halfbacks will be intriguing with Mitchell Pearce and Sam Williams starring for their respective sides in round one.  

Raiders v Knights

For the Raiders to win: Building pressure will be key for the side after having just 40 per cent of possession against the Gold Coast in round one. They have the points in them if they can keep a hold of the ball.

For the Knights to win: Newcastle must continue to apply pressure by ball control and allow their new players to continue to gel on the field.

Raiders Stat Attack: Canberra must complete their sets this weekend, after just 69 per cent against the Titans. Their worst completion rate in a win last season was 74 per cent.

Knights Stat Attack: Newcastle will be out to break a hoodoo at GIO Stadium this weekend, having won just five games there since 1988.

And another thing: The mercury is tipped to reach 34 degrees; all players' fitness will be put to the test.

Prediction: Raiders by 4.

Raiders: 1. Jack Wighton, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker (c), 4. Joseph Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Blake Austin, 7. Sam Williams, 8. Iosia Soliola, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Joshua Papalii, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Luke Bateman.

Interchange: 14. Aidan Sezer, 15. Junior Paulo, 16. Dunamis Lui, 17. Charlie Gubb,

Reserves: 18. Craig Garvey, 19. Michael Oldfield, 20. Royce Hunt, 21. Jack Murchie.

The above team is subject to change one hour before kick-off.

Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 3. Sione Mata’utia, 4. Tautau Moga, 5. Nathan Ross, 6. Connor Watson, 7. Mitchell Pearce (c), 8. Herman Ese’ese, 9. Slade Griffin, 10. Jacob Lillyman, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Aidan Guerra, 13. Mitch Barnett.

Interchange: 14. Brock Lamb, 15. Chris Heighington, 16. Jamie Buhrer (c), 17. Daniel Saifiti,

Reserves: 18. Ken Sio, 19. Jacob Saifiti, 20. Daniel Levi, 21. Luke Yates.

The above team is subject to change one hour before kick-off.

Sunday March 18, 6.30pm AEDT, GIO Stadium

Head-to-head: 47 games, Raiders 26 wins, Knights 19 wins, 2 draws

Matches at the venue: 24 games, Raiders 18 wins, Knights 5 wins, 1 draw

Last five games: Raiders 3 wins, Knights 1 win, 1 draw

2017 matches: Knights beat Raiders 34-20 in round 10, Raiders beat Knights 46-28 in round 25

2017 points per game: Raiders 23.3; Knights 17.8

2017 points conceded per game: Raiders 20.7; Knights 27

Televised: Fox League, NRL Live Pass

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