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Newcastle's dominant start to the year is fading into the rear-view mirror while the reverse is true for Manly, who have all-but forgotten their own dire opening fortnight.

Newcastle stunned the Roosters and humbled Wests Tigers to sit atop the ladder after two rounds, before Mitch Barnett's brain explosion brought them undone against Penrith which was followed by last weekend's loss to nil at Cronulla leaving them wobbling.

The Sea Eagles followed the opposite path, looking lost against the Panthers and Roosters before scraping home against the Bulldogs which led into a convincing win over the Raiders in Mudgee last weekend that has them humming a month into the competition. 

They'll need to ensure the loss of star fullback Tom Trbojevic to a knee injury doesn't stunt the momentum they have been able to build.

Sportsbet Betting preview: Knights v Sea Eagles

The Rundown

Team news

Knights: Adam O'Brien has named the same 17 players, with Jacob Saifiti returning to the run-on side with Leo Thompson on the bench. Tyson Frizell has been named despite hamstring tightness last week.

Sea Eagles: Tolutau Koula, who was himself set to replace the injured Tom Trbojevic, has been ruled out with injury. Brad Parker returns to take his place in the centres with Christian Tuipulotu shifting to the wing. 

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
    Fullback for Sea Eagles is number 5 Reuben Garrick
  • Winger for Knights is number 2 Dominic Young
    Winger for Sea Eagles is number 2 Jason Saab
  • Centre for Knights is number 3 Dane Gagai
    Centre for Sea Eagles is number 4 Morgan Harper
  • Centre for Knights is number 4 Bradman Best
    Centre for Sea Eagles is number 20 Brad Parker
  • Winger for Knights is number 5 Enari Tuala
    Winger for Sea Eagles is number 3 Christian Tuipulotu
  • Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Jake Clifford
    Five-Eighth for Sea Eagles is number 6 Kieran Foran
  • Halfback for Knights is number 7 Adam Clune
    Halfback for Sea Eagles is number 7 Daly Cherry-Evans

Forwards

  • Prop for Knights is number 8 Jacob Saifiti
    Prop for Sea Eagles is number 8 Josh Aloiai
  • Hooker for Knights is number 9 Chris Randall
    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 Haumole Olakau'atu
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Brodie Jones
    2nd Row for Sea Eagles is number 12 Andrew Davey
  • Lock for Knights is number 13 Kurt Mann
    Lock for Sea Eagles is number 13 Jake Trbojevic

Interchange

  • Interchange for Knights is number 14 Phoenix Crossland
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 14 Dylan Walker
  • Interchange for Knights is number 15 Jirah Momoisea
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 15 Karl Lawton
  • Interchange for Knights is number 16 Leo Thompson
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 16 Sean Keppie
  • Interchange for Knights is number 17 Sauaso Sue
    Interchange for Sea Eagles is number 17 Taniela Paseka

Reserves

  • Replacement for Knights is number 18 Simi Sasagi
    Replacement for Sea Eagles is number 24 Ben Trbojevic

Match Officials

  • Referee: Ashley Klein
  • Touch Judge: Chris Sutton
  • Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
  • Senior Review Official: Grant Atkins

Last updated:

Key match-up

Adam Clune v Daly Cherry-Evans: With Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga unusually quiet against the Sharks last week and Manly star Tom Trbojevic sidelined, pressure will once again be on the respective number sevens to get the job done this week. Newcastle would have seen the kicking masterclass that DCE delivered last week and their ability to limit his time and opportunities will be key. Clune's one career game against Manly was a 34-4 win when at the Dragons — coincidentally against a Sea Eagles side that was missing Tom Trbojevic. He'll no doubt be hoping that history repeats itself on Thursday night.

Stat attack

Expect the long kicking game to have a big say in this one - Daly Cherry-Evans has the most kicks (62) and second-most kick metres (1838) through four rounds while Jake Clifford has the most kick-metres (1889) from the second-most kicks (53). 

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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