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The Tigers got their 2020 campaign off on the right foot with a 24-14 road win over the Dragons, while the Knights opened their season with a 20-0 home victory over the Warriors.

Both teams would love to start the year 2-0, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the season beyond round two due to the coronavirus.

The Tigers always look forward to home games at Leichhardt Oval, but it will be a surreal atmosphere on Sunday without a single fan in the stands.

The Rundown

Team news

Tigers: Paul Momirovski is out, with Michael Chee-Kam joining the bench. Matt Eisenhuth also dropped off the reserves list 24 hours before kick-off. Tough break for Luke Brooks, who is out for 3-4 weeks with a calf injury he suffered at training on Saturday. Moses Mbye (knee) is likely to return in round three against the Bulldogs. Oliver Clark and Tommy Talau were omitted an hour before kick-off.

Knights: Not surprisingly, Adam O'Brien has gone with the same 17-man side that beat the Warriors. Mason Lino and Sione Mata'utia were trimmed from the extended bench on Saturday. Tautau Moga played in Canterbury Cup last week after overcoming a hamstring issue. Pasami Saulo and Starford Toa were dropped from the final squad cull on Sunday.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Corey Thompson
    Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
  • Winger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
    Winger for Knights is number 2 Edrick Lee
  • Centre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Joseph Leilua
    Centre for Knights is number 3 Enari Tuala
  • Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Adam Doueihi
    Centre for Knights is number 4 Gehamat Shibasaki
  • Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Robert Jennings
    Winger for Knights is number 5 Hymel Hunt
  • Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Benji Marshall
    Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Kurt Mann
  • Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Josh Reynolds
    Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell Pearce

Forwards

  • Prop for Wests Tigers is number 8 Josh Aloiai
    Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
  • Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Billy Walters
    Hooker for Knights is number 9 Jayden Brailey
  • Prop for Wests Tigers is number 10 Alex Twal
    Prop for Knights is number 10 Daniel Saifiti
  • 2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Luke Garner
    2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
  • 2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Luciano Leilua
    2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Mitchell Barnett
  • Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Elijah Taylor
    Lock for Knights is number 13 Herman Ese'ese

Interchange

  • Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Thomas Mikaele
    Interchange for Knights is number 14 Connor Watson
  • Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Zane Musgrove
    Interchange for Knights is number 15 Jacob Saifiti
  • Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Chris Lawrence
    Interchange for Knights is number 16 Tim Glasby
  • Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 18 Michael Chee-Kam
    Interchange for Knights is number 17 Aidan Guerra

Match Officials

  • Referee: Gerard Sutton
  • Referee: Gavin Badger
  • Touch Judge: Rickey MacFarlane
  • Touch Judge: Liam Kennedy
  • Video Referee: Ben Galea
  • Senior Review Official: Jared Maxwell

Last updated:

Key match-up

Benji Marshall and Mitchell Pearce have squared off more times than they can remember and their clash on Sunday will have a significant impact on the final score. Marshall was at his scheming best last week against the Dragons, while Pearce showed his strong leadership qualities in the drubbing of the Warriors.

Where it'll be won and lost

No doubt Marshall and Pearce will have a big say on the outcome, but Kalyn Ponga holds all the cards. If Ponga is at his electric best the Knights should prevail. If the Tigers keep him quiet and minimise Pearce's influence their chances of winning are excellent.

Brett Kimmorley says

Both sides played really well and defended strongly in round one. It's going to be a good game, a nice, grinding style of football. Benji Marshall is on absolute fire, he's good to watch. I thought the defensive attitude Newcastle showed in Adam O'Brien's first game was very impressive with Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga calling the shots in attack. If anything, I think the Knights may offer a bit more with the ball. Knights by 4.

Stat Attack

The Knights completed a respectable 80% in last week's slippery conditions against the Warriors, but coach Adam O'Brien will want to see his team's 34 missed tackles cut in half against the Tigers. Kalyn Ponga ran for a team-high 235m from 24 runs in the 20-0 round one victory.

And another thing…

Benji Marshall tormented the Dragons in last week's 24-14 victory at a wet and windy Wollongong. He wouldn't have been happy with his seven missed tackles, but Marshall scored a try and kicked three goals to go with two try assists and a line break. Not bad for a 35-year-old.