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Sharks v Knights: Chambers dropped; Best to play, Fitzgibbon out

It's a pistols-at-dawn sort of scenario as these two clubs fight with all their might to secure a top-eight spot, but are coming in with vastly different sets of ammunition.

The Knights are on a roll after wins over the Raiders and Broncos the past two rounds. Confidence is high and Mitchell Pearce has returned to game-manage at the vital end of sets when you need him most.

The Sharks have been on the losing end to Manly and then the Warriors, as they continue to run hot-and-cold in the back end of the club season.

They didn't handle the 19 offloads by the Warriors well last week, and Mitch Barnett and Tyson Frizell are pretty handy in that department.

The rundown

Team news

Sharks: Josh Hannay's team will start 1-17 with Kai O'Donnell the 18th man.

Will Chambers was dropped in reaction to last week's loss to the Warriors.

Mawene Hiroti (hand) is close to a return but won't break into the side's backline this week with Siosifa Talakai in the centres.

Chambers and Hiroti were omitted from the reserves list 24 hours before kick-off.

The Sharks have won only two from seven at Queensland venues this season.

Knights: Newcastle will start 1-17 with Josh King the 18th man.

Hymel Hunt failed a head injury assessment last week but has been cleared to return.

Bradman Best (collarbone) has been cleared of any damage and is expected to play.

Connor Watson will start at lock in his 100th NRL game.

Jirah Momoisea and Star To'a dropped off the extended bench on Saturday.

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

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Sharks is number 1 William Kennedy
    Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
  • Winger for Sharks is number 2 Sione Katoa
    Winger for Knights is number 2 Enari Tuala
  • Centre for Sharks is number 3 Siosifa Talakai
    Centre for Knights is number 3 Kurt Mann
  • Centre for Sharks is number 4 Jesse Ramien
    Centre for Knights is number 4 Bradman Best
  • Winger for Sharks is number 5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
    Winger for Knights is number 5 Hymel Hunt
  • Five-Eighth for Sharks is number 6 Connor Tracey
    Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Jake Clifford
  • Halfback for Sharks is number 7 Braydon Trindall
    Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell Pearce

Forwards

  • Prop for Sharks is number 8 Braden Hamlin-Uele
    Prop for Knights is number 8 Jacob Saifiti
  • Hooker for Sharks is number 9 Blayke Brailey
    Hooker for Knights is number 9 Jayden Brailey
  • Prop for Sharks is number 10 Aaron Woods
    Prop for Knights is number 10 Daniel Saifiti
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 11 Briton Nikora
    2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Tyson Frizell
  • 2nd Row for Sharks is number 12 Jack Williams
    2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Mitchell Barnett
  • Lock for Sharks is number 13 Toby Rudolf
    Lock for Knights is number 13 Connor Watson

Interchange

  • Interchange for Sharks is number 14 Luke Metcalf
    Interchange for Knights is number 14 Sauaso Sue
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 15 Aiden Tolman
    Interchange for Knights is number 15 David Klemmer
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 16 Andrew Fifita
    Interchange for Knights is number 16 Simi Sasagi
  • Interchange for Sharks is number 17 Billy Magoulias
    Interchange for Knights is number 17 Brodie Jones

Reserves

  • Reserve for Sharks is number 20 Kai O'Donnell
    Reserve for Knights is number 18 Josh King

Match Officials

  • Referee: Matt Cecchin
  • Touch Judge: Todd Smith
  • Touch Judge: Dave Munro
  • Senior Review Official: Grant Atkins

Last updated:

Key match-up

Kalyn Ponga v Will Kennedy: Both made seven tackle-bust and a try assist, each in last weekend's games. The difference was Kennedy made two line-breaks, scored a try himself and ran for 226 metres, compared with Ponga's 182 metres against the Broncos.

But no-one doubts the credentials of the Knights fullback. The previous week against the Raiders, Ponga had two line-break assists, two try assists and scored a four-pointer himself. Both he and Kennedy slice their way into back-line moves on either edge as smooth as hot knives through butter. 

Stat attack

The Sharks have scored 69 tries to the Knights 64 after 20 matches, showing there's not a lot between these sides in attack. The stats also show they both concede an average 24 points per game - making this a right royal arm wrestle.

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