Date: Saturday 9th August
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Kurt Gidley, Chanel Mata’utia, 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, Chris Houston
Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Will Chambers, Mahe Fonua, Marika Koroibete, Ben Roberts, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith, Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Tim Glasby, Tohu Harris, Kenneath Bromwich, Jordan McLean, Dayne Weston, Kurt Mann
Alex McKinnon will once again be the focus in the Newcastle Knights preparations this week as they face Melbourne Storm, the side he suffered his life changing injury against at the beginning of the season.
The Knights late season revival was halted last weekend when an injury hit Rabbitohs side strolled to a 50-10 victory over Newcastle to effectively end their finals hopes.
With Alex in the back of their mind though, the Knights will be looking to put in a big performance against a side with top four aspirations and give Wayne Bennett a good send off by ending the season on a high, starting with victory over Storm.
Craig Bellamy’s men may have something to say about that however, as the Storm are picking up momentum going into the finals with three wins in a row and only points difference keeping them out of the top four.
Their latest victory came at Wests Tigers where they ran out 6-28 winners thanks to an impressive display from star man Cooper Cronk who guided them to victory.
It has been a good run towards the end of the season for a Melbourne side which spent a lot of time outside the eight this season, but now they are in form and looking towards finals success.
In team news, Akuila Uate and Jarrod Mullen’s return will be a big boost to Newcastle as they recover from injuries. Kade Snowden is another returning star with Sione Mata’utia, Jake Mamo and Joey Tapine being dropped to Holden Cup. David Fa’alogo is moved to the interchange while Chris Houston, who is set to make it NRL game 150 in his next appearance, is 18th man.
The Storm have named an unchanged 17 with the addition of Dayne Weston and Kurt Mann onto an extended bench the only change.
With the circumstance which the game is going to be played under it is hard to look at the form as a sole indicator to how this match will unfold although, the Storm are finals specialists and they will be fully focused on making a charge for the top four.
The Knights will put up a valiant effort for teammate Alex and could cause an upset as they start a run of four home games in their last five games. Melbourne are on top of their game though and I’m going for a tight victory to the visitors. Storm by 8
Ladder Position: 14th, 16 points
Last 5: WWLWL
Last Win: vs Roosters (H), 16-12 – Round 20
Last Defeat: vs Rabbitohs (A), 50-10 – Round 21
Last time they met: L, 28-20 (A) – Round 3
Ladder Position: 6th, 24 points
Last 5: LLWWW
Last Win: vs Tigers (A), 6-28 – Round 21
Last Defeat: vs Bulldogs (H), 4-6 – Round 18
Last time they met: W, 28-20 (H) – Round 3
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