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The Knights are back home this week to host the Sharks but McDonald Jones Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for them so far as they try to stop the bleeding.

They lost back-to-back games there in round three to the Wests Tigers and round four to the Dragons. And they return with their heads down after a 26-point loss to the Titans last Saturday.

The Sharks will be after some redemption after letting a 14-point lead slip over the Roosters last week to lose the game in the final seven minutes. 

The Knights have won their two most recent meetings with the Sharks, but that was after eight straight losses including the match few will forget in the Hunter - a 62-0 defeat in 2016 - which remains their worst defeat at home.

The rundown

Team news

Knights: Three big ins with Bradman Best (elbow), five-eighth Kurt Mann (concussion) and prop Jacob Saifiti (suspension) all back on deck.

Best's return sees Gehamat Shibasaki drop out of the side while Connor Watson has shifted from five-eighth to lock to accommodate Mann.

Saifiti will return on the bench with Pasami Saulo dropping to the reserves.

Cessnock product Brayden Musgrove has been named to make his debut on the wing.

Edrick Lee (foot) and Tex Hoy (hamstring) are another week away while Phoenix Crossland (knee) was included in the extended squad but dropped out on Thursday along with Shibasaki. Simi Sasagi is the 18th man while Saulo was omitted on game day.

Fullback Kalyn Ponga has won his past five games at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Sharks: Winger Ronaldo Mulitalo (knee) dropped out on Thursday and the backline shuffle sees Connor Tracey move from centre to wing, Teig Wilton from second row to centre and Jack Williams come into the back row. The new addition on the bench is Braydon Trindall.

Having "regained full fitness" after shoulder surgery, per the Sharks website, back-rower Siosfia Talakai is set to play his first game of the season after being included on the bench.

Captain Wade Graham and centre Josh Dugan will both miss the game after failing HIAs last week. Graham has had two concussions in the space of three weeks and said on Tuesday he's a "week-to-week proposition".

Briton Nikora comes back from suspension to fill the hole in the back row.

Jenson Taumoepeau dropped out of the squad on game day while Franklin Pele is the 18th man. Nene Macdonald was omitted from the squad 24 hours before kick-off. 

Fullback William Kennedy has scored six tries in five games in 2021.

Key match-up

Jayden Brailey v Blayke Brailey: Sibling rivalry rears its head as Knights hooker Jayden faces his old club, and his younger brother Blayke. The pair are consistently solid No.9s - both in the NRL's top 10 for receipts - and shared the hooking duties in 2019 at the Sharks with each of them scoring two tries that year.

Stat attack

The Sharks keep searching aimlessly for a win over a top-eight side. They lost all seven last year and that's now three defeats in 2021 - against the Raiders, Eels and the Roosters. With Newcastle having slipped to 11th after their horror run that quest will extend for at least one more week.


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