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NRL match preview: Newcastle Knights vs Sydney Roosters

Date: 25th July, 2014

Venue: Hunter Stadium

Kick-off: 7:40pm

Teams

Newcastle Knights: Darius Boyd, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Joseph Leilua, Akuila Uate, Jarrod Mullen, Tyrone Roberts, Kade Snowden, Adam Clydsdale, Willie Mason, Beau Scott, Robbie Rochow, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Travis Waddell, Korbin Sims, Adam Cuthbertson, David Fa’alogo

Sydney Roosters: Anthony Minichiello, Nene Macdonald, Mitchell Aubusson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Sam Moa, Boyd Cordner, Sonny Bill Williams, Aidan Guerra. Interchange: Frank Paul Nuuausala, Isaac Liu, Dylan Napa, Remi Casty

Preview

The Newcastle Knights 2014 season keeps going from bad to worse both on and off the field, and it gets no easier in round 20 as they face the fired up Sydney Roosters at Hunter Stadium on Friday night.

The Knights season has lacked impressive performances and has instead been highlighted by a career ending injury to Alex McKinnon and the departure of mining magnate Nathan Tinkler.  On top of these blows came confirmation super coach Wayne Bennett would also be leaving the club at the end of the season.

Furthermore, the club has now been hit with the news that maligned fullback Darius Boyd is battling depression, and despite being named to play the Roosters on Tuesday, will now step away from football for an indefinite period of time.

It is likely Jacob Mamo, who had made way in the side for returning winger James McManus, will be recalled to replace Boyd.

The Newcastle side’s off field dramas have reflected on the field, with the team languishing in 14th position on the ladder following a disappointing loss to fellow strugglers the Gold Coast Titans last weekend.

In contrast, the Roosters are building towards the back end of the season, and look to be mounting a strong charge towards the deep end of the season again.

Last year’s premiers demolished the Penrith Panthers 32-12 in round 19, showing some razzle dazzle football that highlights the confidence in the side.

Sonny Bill Williams, who had a quiet start to the season, looks keen to go back to back in the NRL before departing back to union next year as he causes headaches for the defenses opposing him. SBW ran for a total of  179m against the Penrith. Scarily, this effort was second to teammate Boyd Cordner, who clocked just over 200m, conveying how hard the Sydney pack is to contain.

It all points towards a rampant Roosters side this weekend. Expect them to run through the middle of the Knights, before getting creative at the back.

Newcastle’s tough season won’t turn around here.

Prediction

Roosters by 20

Sam Dasey studied a Bachelor of Sports Media at UC, graduating at the end of 2013. He has undertaken internships with Canberra Times and Touch Football Australia, as well as a local radio station in Canberra.

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