The Roosters faced the proverbial banana peel game last week and boy didn't they slip.
Trent Robinson will be happy to see the Origin period in the rear view mirror and no doubt hoping that was his team's last bad performance of the year.
Catching the Storm will be a stretch, so the goal now for the Roosters is to stay one step ahead of the Rabbitohs, Raiders and Sea Eagles in the race for second spot.
The Chooks will also have revenge on their minds after losing to the Knights on the road in round 11.
Newcastle have lost two straight and three of their past four after last week's shock home loss to the Bulldogs.
Match: Roosters v Knights
Round 18 -
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
- LIVE PASS
Roosters: Joseph Manu is out, replaced in the centres by Brett Morris. James Tedesco and Boyd Cordner return as the Roosters look to get back on track after a shock loss to the Cowboys. Cordner's return sees Nat Butcher drop to the bench. Jake Friend moves to the starting side in his second game back from injury which allows Victor Radley to revert to lock. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was cleared by the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night. Lachlan Lam was cut an hour out from kick-off, while Isaac Liu and Lindsay Collins were omitted on Friday.
Knights: The Knights will line up 1-17 as selected on Tuesday. Some key alterations to last week's team, first and foremost with Kalyn Ponga returning at fullback. Kurt Mann moves to five-eighth, Tautau Moga starts in the centres and David Klemmer moves back into the starting side. Tim Glasby goes back to lock and Mitch Barnett returns from suspension in the back-row. Connor Watson, Herman Ese'ese and Jamie Buhrer all switch to the bench. Mason Lino and Jacob Saifiti were trimmed from the reserves on game day, while Aidan Guerra and Josh King were dropped from the squad 24 hours before kick-off.
If Ponga returns as expected it'll be a great battle between the opposing No.1s, but it's impossible to go past the clash of the halfbacks. Roosters No.7 Cooper Cronk was brought to the club at Pierce's expense 18 months ago and delivered a premiership, while Pearce has been superb since arriving in Newcastle. Neither will want to give an inch to the other.
For the Roosters to win
The Chooks are virtually back to full strength and will look to start building a big head of steam as they head toward the post-season. The payback factor should provide ample motivation, while the speed and skill of Tedesco, Mitchell, Keary and Manu should be too much for the Knights to handle.
For the Knights to win
Nathan Brown can't expect the same game plan that worked in round 11 to have the same success on Saturday at the SCG. The Knights need Pearce and Ponga to fire, but the forwards have to bounce back with a powerful effort after an ordinary display against the Bulldogs.
Brett Kimmorley says
It was a shock loss for the Roosters last week but coach Trent Robinson will get them back on track. I expect them to respond with an enormous performance. The high-energy performances the Knights had been turning in are starting to slip a bit. No Mitch Barnett and no Lachlan Fitzgibbon really hurts. Roosters by 10
Connor Watson was a busy man for the Knights last week, running for a team-high 196 metres and making 16 tackle breaks, while hooker Danny Levi led Newcastle's tackle count (43). Mitchell Pearce leads the NRL in all kicks with 210.
And another thing ...
He won't get the attention of teammate Kalyn Ponga but Mitch Barnett makes a welcome return from suspension for the Knights on Saturday. His back-row partner Lachlan Fitzgibbon was also missed last week, but Fitzgibbon isn't due back until round 22.