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Adam O'Brien's enigmatic team, five points clear of ninth place, is looking good to secure Newcastle's first finals berth since 2013 and can keep itself in the top-four conversation by beating the Cowboys.

Consistency has been an issue for the Knights but perhaps they're about to go on a run after securing back-to-back wins for the first time since round two with a nervous triumph against Manly on Sunday.

North Queensland, meanwhile, haven't won a game since they defeated Newcastle in round seven. They have shown heart and promise but failed to execute at the right moments.

Captain Michael Morgan was sensational last week against Souths but coach Josh Hannay lamented the side's "bonehead" errors that led to a 31-30 loss after leading 30-24 with six minutes to go.

The Rundown

Team news

Knights: Newcastle will start 1-17 after Brodie Jones and Tex Hoy were left out an hour before kick-off. Daniel Saifiti has succumbed to another knee injury with his brother Jacob to start at prop and Pasami Saulo returning on the bench. The Knights have won five of their past seven games on home soil.

Chris Randall and Jirah Momoisea dropped off the extended bench 24 hours before kick-off.

Cowboys: Reece Robson (hamstring) and Emry Pere (back) are out, with Justin O'Neill replacing Connelly Lemuelu at centre, Reuben Cotter at hooker and Jake Granville and Corey Jensen joining the bench. Shane Wright and Jake Clifford were the two players omitted an hour before the match. The Cowboys have won five of their past six games against the Knights.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
    Fullback for Cowboys is number 1 Scott Drinkwater
  • Winger for Knights is number 2 Starford To'a
    Winger for Cowboys is number 2 Kyle Feldt
  • Centre for Knights is number 3 Enari Tuala
    Centre for Cowboys is number 3 Tom Opacic
  • Centre for Knights is number 4 Gehamat Shibasaki
    Centre for Cowboys is number 22 Justin O'Neill
  • Winger for Knights is number 5 Hymel Hunt
    Winger for Cowboys is number 5 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
  • Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Blake Green
    Five-Eighth for Cowboys is number 6 Ben Hampton
  • Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell Pearce
    Halfback for Cowboys is number 7 Michael Morgan

Forwards

  • Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
    Prop for Cowboys is number 8 Josh McGuire
  • Hooker for Knights is number 9 Kurt Mann
    Hooker for Cowboys is number 14 Reuben Cotter
  • Prop for Knights is number 10 Jacob 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 Mitchell Dunn
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Aidan Guerra
    2nd Row for Cowboys is number 12 Coen Hess
  • Lock for Knights is number 13 Mitchell Barnett
    Lock for Cowboys is number 13 Jason Taumalolo

Interchange

  • Interchange for Knights is number 14 Phoenix Crossland
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 15 John Asiata
  • Interchange for Knights is number 15 Herman Ese'ese
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 17 Francis Molo
  • Interchange for Knights is number 16 Josh King
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 20 Corey Jensen
  • Interchange for Knights is number 17 Pasami Saulo
    Interchange for Cowboys is number 21 Jake Granville

Match Officials

  • Referee: Adam Gee
  • Touch Judge: Belinda Sharpe
  • Touch Judge: Dave Munro
  • Video Referee: Bryan Norrie
  • Senior Review Official: Jared Maxwell

Last updated:

Key match-up

Mitchell Pearce v Michael Morgan. It's probably no coincidence that Newcastle have won back-to-back games with Blake Green coming on board to help shoulder Pearce's load.

The Knights captain will look to continue his side's momentum by outpointing Morgan, who all but dragged the Cowboys to victory last round as he responded to a horror comeback from shoulder surgery a week prior.

Stat Attack

Knights prop David Klemmer has ascended to the top of the offload charts with 39. Eels forward Junior Paulo (36) and suspended Broncos powerhouse Tevita Pangai jnr (29) trail him. Offloading has clearly been a focus for Klemmer in 2020 - last season he produced only 23.