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Newcastle put themselves right back into the finals conversation with a much-needed win over Canberra and have a run home that would be the envy of just about every one of their rivals.

The Knights looked down and out after suffering heavy losses to Melbourne and the Roosters but Sunday's 34-24 victory over the Raiders keeps them in the scrum of teams fighting desperately for seventh and eighth.

Knights fans will be starting to fancy their team's chances with a finishing run of matches that contains no top six teams.

The added boost of Kalyn Ponga and Bradman Best back fit and firing also lifts confidence.

The Knights face Brisbane twice in the run home but 15th-placed Brisbane look likely to present a stiffer test than many would have expected after hanging tough against Penrith then backing up to beat North Queensland.

The rundown

Team news

Knights: Lachlan Fitzgibbon has been promoted to the starting side an hour before kick-off. Mitch Barnett moves into the middle and pushes Connor Watson to the bench with Josh King dropping out of the side and Phoenix Crossland 18th man.

Mitchell Pearce said on Tuesday "unless something drastic happens" at a final training run on Wednesday he was a certain starter for the clash.

Hooker Jayden Brailey has been rested so Chris Randall called into the starting side.

Starford To'a and Jack Johns were the first two players cut from the squad 24 hours before kick-off.

The Knights have won their past three games against the Broncos.

Broncos: On Wednesday, Broncos coach Kevin Walters said Albert Kelly would come onto the bench and is likely to take on back-up hooker duties with TC Robati the man to drop out of the 17. Robati is 18th man and David Mead was the last player cut an hour before kick-off.

Danny Levi was successful at the NRL judiciary on Tuesday night to beat a dangerous contact charge but he was never going to miss any game time regardless of the outcome.

Levi replaces Jake Turpin (ankle) at hooker against his former side while Jesse Arthars comes in for the injured Kotoni Staggs.

Xavier Coates and Anthony Milford were omitted from the extended squad on Wednesday.

The Broncos are aiming for back-to-back wins for the first time since the opening rounds of 2020.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
    Fullback for Broncos is number 1 Tesi Niu
  • Winger for Knights is number 2 Enari Tuala
    Winger for Broncos is number 2 Corey Oates
  • Centre for Knights is number 3 Kurt Mann
    Centre for Broncos is number 3 Jesse Arthars
  • Centre for Knights is number 4 Bradman Best
    Centre for Broncos is number 4 Herbie Farnworth
  • Winger for Knights is number 5 Hymel Hunt
    Winger for Broncos is number 5 Jamayne Isaako
  • Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Jake Clifford
    Five-Eighth for Broncos is number 6 Tyson Gamble
  • Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell Pearce
    Halfback for Broncos is number 7 Brodie Croft

Forwards

  • Prop for Knights is number 8 Jacob Saifiti
    Prop for Broncos is number 8 Keenan Palasia
  • Hooker for Knights is number 9 Chris Randall
    Hooker for Broncos is number 9 Danny Levi
  • Prop for Knights is number 10 Daniel Saifiti
    Prop for Broncos is number 10 Payne Haas
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
    2nd Row for Broncos is number 11 Alex Glenn
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 19 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
    2nd Row for Broncos is number 12 Jordan Riki
  • Lock for Knights is number 12 Mitchell Barnett
    Lock for Broncos is number 13 Kobe Hetherington

Interchange

  • Interchange for Knights is number 13 Connor Watson
    Interchange for Broncos is number 14 Xavier Willison
  • Interchange for Knights is number 14 Sauaso Sue
    Interchange for Broncos is number 15 Rhys Kennedy
  • Interchange for Knights is number 15 David Klemmer
    Interchange for Broncos is number 16 Ethan Bullemor
  • Interchange for Knights is number 17 Brodie Jones
    Interchange for Broncos is number 19 Albert Kelly

Reserves

  • Reserve for Knights is number 18 Phoenix Crossland
    Reserve for Broncos is number 17 Teui Robati

Match Officials

  • Referee: Grant Atkins
  • Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
  • Touch Judge: Phil Henderson
  • Senior Review Official: Alan Shortall

Last updated:

Key match-up

Jake Clifford v Tyson Gamble: Clifford has shown some great signs since arriving in Newcastle and may prove just what the Knights need provided Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce can stay on the field. The tenacity Gamble plays with should serve as an inspiration to his teammates.

Stat attack

Whether it’s by design or not, Brisbane are the lowest-ranked team in the NRL for decoy runs - they have registered only 596 in 19 outings, the only side averaging less than 32 per game.

 

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