Newcastle No.2 Sports Ground, Sunday, June 2
Referee: Adam Cassidy
The Newcastle Knights will be looking to make amends for a disappointing loss to the Vulcans in Auckland last weekend while the Magpies also need a win after a second half comeback wasnt enough to see them get home against the Bulldogs at Ringrose Park.
The Knights had been chancing their luck somewhat in recent weeks with unconvincing wins against the Tigers and Manly, and their recent inability to put sides to the sword came back to bite them last week when the Vulcans scored after the full time siren. Wenty continue to search for some much needed consistency as they have now gone loss-win-loss-win-loss over their previous five weeks.
The Knights look set to be without Kevin Naiqama and Peter Matautia here with both players called up to the NRL side, with their spots set to be filled by Will Smith and Siuatonga Likiliki. The Knights pack still has plenty of punch though with Tetevano, Hilder, Costigan and Houston all named.
The Wenty pack has plenty of starch of its own however with Darcy Lussick and Junior Paulo set to tackle the Knights head on. The Magpies have shown that they can score plenty of points, but at times recently, their defence has been a cause of concern for Brett Cook and his staff. Look for Wenty to come out firing and really take it up to the Knights on their own home turf.
Big few weeks for the Magpies This clash against the Knights (4th) is their first of three consecutive matches against sides that currently sit above them on the table. Next week sees them play host to the Tigers (5th) followed the week after by a trip to the Shire to face the ladder leading Sharks (1st). Such is the closeness of this years competition, one could see the Magpies winning all three of these games, but you could also quite easily imagine that they could come out the other side of this stretch with no points to show for their trouble. The latter would clearly not be a good result for the club, and would make a top four finish at years end highly unlikely.
Prediction: Another toss up on paper. Tipping Wenty for no reason in particular. Wenty by 2.