Considering both the Knights and Cowboys had three players each involved in the deciding Origin game last month, it is baffling they're 12th and 13th respectively on the NRL ladder.

But that's where they find themselves at Newcastle's McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday - the home side coming off their sixth loss in a row and the visitors their fourth.

So two down-on-their-luck sides looking for a little sunshine to hit them in the twilight of the season.

Mathematically if Nathan Brown's men win this one and the other three remaining club games, they would get to 26 points and could scrape into the finals. But realistically they would need a few other results to fall their way.

The Cowboys are missing eight players through injury - three season-ending - so they are looking more toward 2020. But sneaking in a win or more to end 2019 wouldn't go astray. 

Match: Knights v Cowboys

Round 22 -

Full Time
Knights

Home Team

Knights

Scored 42 points
Cowboys

Away Team

Cowboys

Scored 6 points

Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium

Match broadcasters:

  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS
  • KAYO

The Rundown

Team news

Knights: Sione Mata'utia has been elevated from the bench to a starting spot in the backline at the expense of Kurt Mann. Jamie Buhrer and Chris Randall were the 24-hour cuts from the squad, while Tim Glasby wasn't selected due to concussion protocols after suffering his second head knock in three matches last round. James Gavet remains sidelined with hamstring tightness. Danny levi and Jirah Momoisea were cut an hour before kick-off. 

Cowboys: Jason Taumalolo is out (foot injury), with John Asiata elevated to the starting side from the interchange bench. Tom Gilbert is the other 24-hour omission. Prop Jordan McLean returns after missing last round with a minor calf injury. Veteran front-rower Matt Scott moves into the starting pack to replace the suspended Josh McGuire, while Jordan Kahu (facial fracture) will make his comeback in place of winger Gideon Gela-Mosby. Murray Taulagi and Corey Jensen were the last players omitted before kick-off.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
    Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott Drinkwater
  • Winger for Knights is number 16 Sione Mata'utia
    Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
  • Centre for Knights is number 3 Hymel Hunt
    Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Coen Hess
  • Centre for Knights is number 4 Tautau Moga
    Centre for Cowboys is number 4 Tom Opacic
  • Winger for Knights is number 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall
    Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Jordan Kahu
  • Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Mason Lino
    Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Michael Morgan
  • Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell Pearce
    Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Jake Clifford

Forwards

  • Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
    Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Matthew Scott
  • Hooker for Knights is number 9 Connor Watson
    Hooker for Cowboys is number 9 Jake Granville
  • Prop for Knights is number 10 Daniel Saifiti
    Prop for Cowboys is number 10 Jordan McLean
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 11 Gavin Cooper
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Mitchell Barnett
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Shane Wright
  • Lock for Knights is number 13 Josh King
    Lock for Cowboys is number 15 John Asiata

Interchange

  • Interchange for Knights is number 2 Kurt Mann
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 14 Reuben Cotter
  • Interchange for Knights is number 14 Jacob Saifiti
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 16 Scott Bolton
  • Interchange for Knights is number 15 Herman Ese'ese
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Francis Molo
  • Interchange for Knights is number 17 Aidan Guerra
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 18 Peter Hola

Key match-up

Not usually the eye-catchers in a game, the two second-rowers for the Cowboys in Shane Wright and Gavin Cooper seem evenly matched with Knights pair Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Mitch Barnett if you are after rugged, hard-working players who can both stop and create tries. 

For the Knights to win

The hooker-and-halfback combination isn't as well-oiled a machine as it should be with Mitchell Pearce having to chop and change his No.9 between Danny Levi and Connor Watson in the past month. If that partnership could be settled, maybe that could turn fortunes around.  

For the Cowboys to win

They are scoring tries but not defending them well, which leads to inconsistent results. In the past four weeks the Cowboys have lost by four points, 24 points, two points and 12 points. But surprisingly it's the Knights who are the fourth worst in the NRL for missed tackles - the Cowboys are seventh.

Brett Kimmorley says

You would think Newcastle should be good enough to win this game. But after losing six in a row, that doesn’t seem to have made any difference to performances. I’m not really sure where Newcastle go now. Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce need to be the stars, but for that to happen the forwards really need to lay the foundation. At some stage the Cowboys are going to pull off an upset and display some good form. They’ll click one day, that day might be Saturday. Cowboys by 2

Stat Attack

The Cowboys are up in the top four with the Warriors, Panthers and Sea Eagles for making the most number of runs in the NRL over 20 rounds. So the North Queensland men should just open up the lungs and keep going - increasing the fatigue factor in their opponents can only be a good thing.

And another thing ...

Jason Taumalolo isn't far behind Warriors fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck when it comes to post-contact metres. So the Cowboys' forwards will need to lift in the middle of the ruck to make up for his absence.