Newcastle's season is alive - just - and they must do away with the cellar-dwelling Titans to keep it like that.
With for and against on their side, the Knights simply need to beat Gold Coast at McDonald Jones Stadium to set up a round 25 date with Penrith to determine their fate.
The club has experienced further upheaval during the week with coach Nathan Brown stepping down, effective immediately, with Kristian Woolf taking over in an interim capacity for the rest of the season.
Resigned to the wooden spoon, there's nothing at stake for the Titans except pride but they would no doubt take pleasure in spoiling another team's finals hopes. On the plus side they have won five from their past seven against Newcastle.
A 24-8 defeat to Melbourne last week piled more pain on the embattled club, so a victory would give Gold Coast's suffering fans a glimmer of hope for the future.
Match: Knights v Titans
Round 24 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Knights: Aidan Guerra will start the match for the Knights, with Lachlan Fitzgibbon to come off the interchange bench. Kurt Mann and Chris Randall were the two players omitted an hour before kick-off. Connor Watson returns to the side at hooker after a minor MCL injury in a straight swap with Danny Levi (rib injury). The Knights have lost seven of their past eight games. James Gavet and Tautau Moga were the two players left out 24 hours before kick-off.
Titans: In a change made an hour before kick-off, Tanah Boyd moves from the reserves list to the interchange bench with Will Matthews and Jack Stockwell the two players to drop out. Nathan Peats slips back to hooker with Mitch Rein suspended and will play his 150th NRL game. The Titans have won five of their past seven games against the Knights. Anthony Don and Ash Taylor were the two players omitted on the eve of the match.
Match: Knights v Titans
Round 24 -
Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn PongaFullback for Titans is number 1 Michael Gordon
Winger for Knights is number 2 Bradman BestWinger for Titans is number 2 Jesse Arthars
Centre for Knights is number 3 Sione Mata'utiaCentre for Titans is number 3 Kallum Watkins
Centre for Knights is number 4 Hymel HuntCentre for Titans is number 4 Brian Kelly
Winger for Knights is number 5 Shaun Kenny-DowallWinger for Titans is number 5 Phillip Sami
Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Mason LinoFive-Eighth for Titans is number 6 Tyrone Peachey
Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell PearceHalfback for Titans is number 7 Ryley Jacks
Prop for Knights is number 8 David KlemmerProp for Titans is number 8 Jarrod Wallace
Hooker for Knights is number 9 Connor WatsonHooker for Titans is number 9 Nathan Peats
Prop for Knights is number 10 Daniel SaifitiProp for Titans is number 10 Moeaki Fotuaika
2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Mitchell Barnett2nd Row for Titans is number 11 Kevin Proctor
2nd Row for Knights is number 17 Aidan Guerra2nd Row for Titans is number 12 Sam Stone
Lock for Knights is number 13 Tim GlasbyLock for Titans is number 13 Jai Arrow
Interchange for Knights is number 11 Lachlan FitzgibbonInterchange for Titans is number 14 Alexander Brimson
Interchange for Knights is number 14 Jacob SaifitiInterchange for Titans is number 15 Jai Whitbread
Interchange for Knights is number 15 Herman Ese'eseInterchange for Titans is number 16 Bryce Cartwright
Interchange for Knights is number 16 Josh KingInterchange for Titans is number 21 Tanah Boyd
- Referee: Chris Butler
- Referee: Gavin Badger
Origin opponents David Klemmer and Jai Arrow lock horns up front in an intriguing battle. Both men are the leaders of their team's packs and will have a big influence in setting the tone for the match.
For the Knights to win
Completing well in the early exchanges and building pressure is the goal. The Knights have ample strike-power but they can't fall into the trap of trying to be too fancy too soon. The Titans will eventually crack if they're put under the pump.
For the Titans to win
Gold Coast should take a leaf from Canterbury-Bankstown's book and mimic their gritty defence. If the Titans can frustrate the Knights and force some errors, the door will creak open.
Brett Kimmorley says
The Knights’ players were extremely poor last week. If they have any pride in their performances they will play out of their skin this week. The Titans were better last week. I don’t know who is going to win but I think Newcastle – who were sitting in fourth eight weeks ago – have a better roster and should be able to win the game. Knights by 6
Phillip Sami hit 35.9 km/h chasing down Josh Addo Carr on Sunday. It’s his fastest effort of the year and was among the top 10 fastest speeds we’ve seen all year in the NRL. Addo-Carr clocked 33.9 km/h in the run.
And another thing ...
Both teams will have new coaches next year - Justin Holbrook will take over from caretaker coach Craig Hodges at the Titans while a replacement is yet to be announced for outgoing Knights mentor Nathan Brown.