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Newcastle are in great shape to record their first back-to-back victories since the opening two rounds of the season against a Sea Eagles side grievously short on troops and luck.

The Knights monstered Wests Tigers 44-4 at home last round and while Kalyn Ponga grabbed the headlines Newcastle turned in a complete team display that should have them pretty confident of a repeat performance on Sunday.

Not only did Newcastle cross for eight tries and restrict Wests Tigers to just the one fortunate four-pointer with enthusiastic defence, they managed to get through the clash unscathed after losing not one but two hookers the previous weekend.

Manly, on the other hand, added starting props Addin Fonua-Blake and Marty Taupau to an already crowded injury ward after falling to 2-5 in their past seven outings, a run that has seen them slide to ninth on the table.

The Rundown

Team news

Knights: Newcastle will start 1-17 after Tex Hoy and Brodie Jones were the last two dropped from the squad. Daniel Saifiti will start in his return from a knee injury, with coach Adam O'Brien saying the NSW representative has "earnt the right" to do so.

His comeback will mean brother Jacob reverts to the pine. After having a COVID hold lifted, O'Brien confirmed Star To'a will take his place on the wing.

Chris Randall and Mason Lino were omitted from the extended squad on Saturday. The Knights are chasing back-to-back wins for the first time since Round 2.

Sea Eagles: Jake Trbojevic will start at prop, Corey Wadell at lock and Tevita Funa on the wing after the withdrawal of Martin Taupau (head knock) and Jorge Taufua. Second-rowers Joel Thompson (ankle) and Curtis Sironen (knee) return. Brad Parker is back from a head knock in the centres. Abbas Miski ad Morgan Boyle were the two players left out an hour before the match.

Haumole Olakau'atu drops to the interchange, with Jack Gosiewski also on the bench. The Sea Eagles have defeated four top-eight opponents in 2020.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
    Fullback for Sea Eagles is number 1 Brendan Elliot
  • Winger for Knights is number 2 Starford To'a
    Winger for Sea Eagles is number 5 Reuben Garrick
  • Centre for Knights is number 3 Enari Tuala
    Centre for Sea Eagles is number 3 Brad Parker
  • Centre for Knights is number 4 Gehamat Shibasaki
    Centre for Sea Eagles is number 4 Moses Suli
  • Winger for Knights is number 5 Hymel Hunt
    Winger for Sea Eagles is number 19 Tevita Funa
  • Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Blake Green
    Five-Eighth for Sea Eagles is number 6 Cade Cust
  • Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell Pearce
    Halfback for Sea Eagles is number 7 Daly Cherry-Evans

Forwards

  • Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
    Prop for Sea Eagles is number 8 Taniela Paseka
  • Hooker for Knights is number 9 Kurt Mann
    Hooker for Sea Eagles is number 9 Danny Levi
  • Prop for Knights is number 10 Daniel Saifiti
    Prop for Sea Eagles is number 13 Jake Trbojevic
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
    2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 11 Joel Thompson
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Aidan Guerra
    2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 12 Curtis Sironen
  • Lock for Knights is number 13 Mitchell Barnett
    Lock for Sea Eagles is number 15 Corey Waddell

Interchange

  • Interchange for Knights is number 14 Phoenix Crossland
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 14 Lachlan Croker
  • Interchange for Knights is number 15 Jacob Saifiti
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 16 Sean Keppie
  • Interchange for Knights is number 16 Herman Ese'ese
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 17 Haumole Olakau'atu
  • Interchange for Knights is number 17 Josh King
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 21 Jack Gosiewski

Key match-up

Mitch Barnett v Jake Trbojevic: The Knights No.13 missed seven games with a neck injury but has provided plenty of energy and enthusiasm in both attack and defence since his return, culminating is a miracle offload to present Hymel Hunt with a try on a platter against Wests Tigers.

Trbojevic has stepped up as one of the few senior Sea Eagles still standing and is in season-best form. He leads the way in defence and provides vital support for skipper Daly Cherry-Evans in the playmaking department.

Stat Attack

The Sea Eagles defence will have to show all of its famed resilience if it is to hold back the tide at McDonald Jones Stadium.

The Knights, who lead the NRL in run metres (24,178) and post-contact metres (8583), will send a squadron of hard-running forwards charging at a below-strength Manly pack with Kalyn Ponga (242m against Wests Tigers) primed to take advantage of an equally undermanned Sea Eagles backline.