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Knights need to show defensive resurgence not one-off: Heighington

Newcastle produced their best defensive effort of the year last weekend, but it's one thing doing it against last-placed Parramatta compared to reproducing that intensity against the high-flying Roosters.

Veteran forward Chris Heighington said the Knights were relishing the challenge of testing their new-found resolve against one of the Telstra Premiership's most dangerous attacking sides on Saturday at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Newcastle muscled up in their emphatic 30-4 win over the Eels, only allowing one late try, to halt a four-game losing streak.

Against a side that boasts talent like Cooper Cronk and James Tedesco, the former Sharks forward sees this weekend's game as a tougher test which will show whether they are over their defensive concerns or that the Parramatta performance was a one-off against a struggling team.

"I thought our defence was really good, because it put us in good position to attack," Heighington said.

"Previous weeks we just waited to get the ball, and obviously got the ball on our try line which makes it harder to get up the field – but it is all about backing it up.

"The difference is they [Roosters] have a lot more strike weapons, so we are going to have to be on our game."

Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga.
Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

The Roosters could have up to four players backing up from Wednesday night's Holden State of Origin series opener - Tedesco, Boyd Cordner, Latrell Mitchell and Dylan Napa.

Heighington will be reminding his comrades in the engine room they need to counter the Roosters' big boppers to allow Newcastle's explosive fullback Kalyn Ponga to strut his stuff out wide. 

"(The forward pack) are good, they are aggressive, intimidating type players," he said.

"So our starting middles will have to do a good job, as they have a few good guys on the bench who have done a good job for the Roosters for a long time.

"We have some big forwards ourselves, so if we put in a good performance like we started against Parramatta we should go into half-time pretty well off."

Co-captain Jamie Buhrer warned the Knights need to be on alert for an aerial attack after they were tested by the kicking game of the Roosters' halves in round three.

"They scored a lot of tries off really well executed kicks and that's something they have got going for them," Buhrer said.

"They have a lot of weapons in their arsenal – they have Cooper Cronk there and Luke Keary who have great kicking games, both short and long.

"They aerial specialists who can take advantage of that – five of the last six tries they scored [in round three] were off kicks."

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