Knights v Eels, Round 18 Match Preview
The Parramatta Eels take on the Newcastle Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday 13 July in Round 18 of the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Blue & Gold Head Coach Brad Arthur has named a 21-man squad following a narrow 20-18 defeat to the then competition leading St George Illawarra Dragons.
The only change to the top 17 is the inclusion of Tepai Moeroa, returning from suspension to a spot on the bench. He covers Will Smith's spot after the live wire picked up a hamstring injury.
Michael Jennings retains his spot after a strong performance with Wentworthville last week. Kane Evans, Kirisome Auva'a, Jaeman Salmon and Kaysa Pritchard are the reserves.
For the Knights, Head Coach Nathan Brown aims for their seventh win of the season with significant changes to their playmaking lineup.
Newcastle's co-captain and halfback Mitchell Pearce is ready for his first match since round seven following a pec injury.
He will have to wait to team up with Kalyn Ponga, due to a hamstring injury the fullback sustained in Round 17. Nick Meaney, Ponga's replacement, is set to make his NRL debut.
Rake Slade Griffin is out for the season with a knee injury and Danny Levi becomes the dummy-half. It leaves Connor Watson as the only playmaker from their last match, a 36-16 loss against the Bulldogs, to face the Eels.
The Eels have won their last two clashes in Knights territory and the Novocastrians are still struggling to win at home. So far this season the Knights managed wins over the Brisbane Broncos (Round 5) and the Manly Sea Eagles (Round 8).
It goes against the grain of historical results, which has 28 wins for Newcastle and 21 for Parramatta.
Both teams had their only bye of the season last week and share the same form with three wins from their last 10 games.
A fortnight ago the Blue & Golds were looking likely winners through 76 minutes against the Dragons. Continuing to play that strong for pride can set up another entertaining game.
This Friday night clash will kick off at 7:55pm. Click through to purchase tickets!
Match Details: Newcastle Knights v Parramatta Eels, Friday 7.55pm at McDonald Jones Stadium
Head-to-head: Played 50; Knights 28 wins, Eels 21, 1 draw
Previous result: Knights won 30-4 at ANZ Stadium in round 13
Matches at venue: Played 25; Knights 17 wins, Eels 8 wins, 1 draw
Points per game: Knights 17.6; Eels 14.8
Points conceded per game: Knights 26.8; Eels 23.4
Televised: Live on Nine, Fox League
Live Radio: 2GB, ABC
Newcastle Knights: 1 Nicholas Meaney, 2 Ken Sio, 3 Sione Mata'utia, 4 Cory Denniss, 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6 Connor Watson, 7 Mitchell Pearce (c), 8 Josh King, 9 Danny Levi, 10 Daniel Saifiti, 11 Mitch Barnett, 12 Aidan Guerra, 13 Herman Ese'ese
Interchange: 14 Nathan Ross, 15 Chris Heighington, 16 Jamie Buhrer (c), 17 Jacob Lillyman,
Reserves: 18 Luke Yates, 19 Sam Stone, 20 Jack Cogger, 21 JJ Felise
The Knights have named halfback Mitchell Pearce to return from a pec injury, pushing Jack Cogger to the reserves. Nick Meaney debuts at fullback for Kalyn Ponga (hamstring) and Danny Levi starts at hooker for Slade Griffin (knee) with Nathan Ross coming onto the bench. Daniel Saifiti (foot) returns in the front row pushing Herman Ese'ese to lock, Aidan Guerra to second row and Sam Stone to the reserves.
Parramatta Eels: 1 Clint Gutherson (c), 2 Bevan French, 3 Michael Jennings, 4 Jarryd Hayne, 5 George Jennings, 6 Corey Norman, 7 Mitchell Moses, 8 Daniel Alvaro, 9 Cameron King, 10 Siosaia Vave, 11 Marata Niukore, 12 Brad Takairangi, 13 Nathan Brown
Interchange: 14 Tepai Moeroa, 15 Tim Mannah (c), 16 David Gower, 17 Peni Terepo
Reserves: 18 Kane Evans, 19 Kirisome Auva'a, 20 Jaeman Salmon, 21 Kaysa Pritchard
Tepai Moeroa (suspension) returns on the bench for Will Smith in Parramatta's only change.