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Newcastle, desperate to climb out of a demoralising rut, will have to engineer a change in fortunes against one of the hottest teams in the competition.

The Knights have lost three of four and only once strung together back-to-back wins in 2021 - in the season's opening two rounds.

But coach Adam O'Brien saw encouraging signs in the loss to North Queensland, including the resilience of a side missing several experienced campaigners, and is backing his players to turn things around.

Manly, in contrast, looked locked in the basement after having lost their opening four matches but the return of Tom Trbojevic has transported the Sea Eagles to the upper echelon of the competition. 

The Sea Eagles have won six of their past seven and moved from the bottom of the ladder to within two wins of the top four.

The rundown

Team news

Knights: Star fullback Kalyn Ponga (groin injury) and five-eighth Kurt Mann are both out. Tex Hoy replaces Ponga at fullback with Connor Watson replacing Mann.

Watson will partner Phoenix Crossland in the halves after veteran Blake Green announced his immediate retirement from rugby league earlier this week. New signing Jake Clifford will be available next week.

Simi Sasagi is the 18th man.

Ponga and Jack Johns were trimmed from the squad 24 hours before kick-off.

Lock Mitch Barnett plays his 100th game for the club.

Sea Eagles: Josh Schuster is out after sustaining a leg injury at the captain's run with Tevita Funa the new five-eighth. Christian Tuipulotu is the 18th man.

A big in for Manly with Curtis Sironen named to return early from a knee injury via the interchange bench. Karl Lawton retains his spot in the side after playing his first game for the club last weekend and has been promoted from the bench to the run-on side in the back row.

Haumole Olakau'atu has been sidelined by a hand injury. 

Toafofoa Sipley (dangerous contact) and Lawton (high tackle) have both escaped with fines after entering early guilty pleas.

Dylan Walker (hamstring) and Kieran Foran (hand) are not expected back until after the bye.

Toafofoa Sipley (dangerous contact) and Lawton (high tackle) have both escaped with fines after entering early guilty pleas.

Dylan Walker (hamstring) and Kieran Foran (hand) are not expected back until after the bye.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Knights is number 18 Tex Hoy
    Fullback for Sea Eagles is number 1 Tom Trbojevic
  • Winger for Knights is number 2 Starford To'a
    Winger for Sea Eagles is number 2 Jason Saab
  • Centre for Knights is number 3 Enari Tuala
    Centre for Sea Eagles is number 3 Brad Parker
  • Centre for Knights is number 4 Bradman Best
    Centre for Sea Eagles is number 4 Morgan Harper
  • Winger for Knights is number 5 Brayden Musgrove
    Winger for Sea Eagles is number 5 Reuben Garrick
  • Five-Eighth for Knights is number 14 Connor Watson
    Five-Eighth for Sea Eagles is number 19 Tevita Funa
  • Halfback for Knights is number 7 Phoenix Crossland
    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 Jayden Brailey
    Hooker for Sea Eagles is number 9 Lachlan Croker
  • Prop for Knights is number 10 Daniel Saifiti
    Prop for Sea Eagles is number 10 Martin Taupau
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
    2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 11 Karl Lawton
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
    2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 12 Sean Keppie
  • Lock for Knights is number 13 Mitchell Barnett
    Lock for Sea Eagles is number 13 Jake Trbojevic

Interchange

  • Interchange for Knights is number 15 Jacob Saifiti
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 15 Moses Suli
  • Interchange for Knights is number 16 Sauaso Sue
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 16 Zac Saddler
  • Interchange for Knights is number 17 Brodie Jones
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 17 Toafofoa Sipley
  • Interchange for Knights is number 19 Josh King
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 18 Ben Trbojevic

Reserves

  • Reserve for Knights is number 20 Simi Sasagi
    Reserve for Sea Eagles is number 20 Christian Tuipulotu

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ben Cummins
  • Touch Judge: Peter Gough
  • Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
  • Senior Review Official: Matt Noyen

Last updated:

Key match-up

David Klemmer v Martin Taupau: It's a clash of power and finesse when these veteran front-rowers lock horns. Klemmer ranks fourth for post-contact metres (715) and eighth for run metres (1813) while Taupau lags in both categories, his 542 post-contact metres good for 23rd and his 1471 run metres ranking 30th. But when it comes to popping offloads it's a vastly different story. Taupau ranks fifth with 22 while Klemmer doesn't even crack the top 50 with nine. 

Stat attack

The Knights were able to manage just four line breaks in their loss to Cowboys in Round 11. This was despite having eight players who each ran for over 100m.

 

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