Date: Saturday 6th June
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Knights 1 Dane Gagai 2 James McManus 3 Sione Mata’utia 4 Joesph Leilua 5 Akuila Uate 6 Carlos Tuimavave 7 Kurt Gidley 8 Kade Snowden 9 Adam Clydsdale 10 David Fa’alogo 11 Beau Scott 12 Tariq Sims 13 Jack Stockwell. Interchange: 14 Tyler Randell 15 Chris Houston 16 Korbin Sims 17 Sam Mataora
Raiders 1 Jack Wighton 2 Edrick Lee 3 Jarrod Croker 4 Sisa Waqa 5 Jordan Rapana 6 Blake Austin 7 Sam Williams 8 Paul Vaughan 9 Josh Hodgson 10 David Shillington 11 Josh Papalii 12 Sia Soliola 13 Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14 Kurt Baptise 15 Jarrad Kennedy 16 Frank-Paul Nuuausala 17 Shannon Boyd
The Newcastle Knights return home this weekend when they face the Canberra Raiders at Hunter Stadium on Saturday.
Both teams head into the clash having lost last weekend.
The Knights showed plenty of heart after losing Kurt Gidley and Kade Snowden during the week and Tyrone Roberts early in the game. However, their heart wasn’t enough against a strong Warriors team.
The Raiders also came up short with a loss against a red-hot Brisbane Broncos side. Ricky Stuart was not happy and left the press conference barely after it had started.
In team news, the Knights welcome back Gidley and Snowden but lose Roberts to the ankle injury he suffered last weekend. Joseph Tapine drops out of the side.
The Raiders are less disrupted by injury with Jordan Rapana returning to the side at the expense of Luke Bateman.
The game this weekend will centre around one man, Blake Austin. Having started the season on fire and destined for higher honours, this will be his last chance to impress Blues head coach Laurie Daley ahead of State of Origin 2 in Melbourne.
The player to look out for in the home side is Dane Gagai. Since making the switch to fullback, his attacking prowess has been on full display. However, he has been caught out on a number of occasions in defence, most notably with Solomone Kata last round against the Warriors, something Austin and halves partner Sam Williams will be looking to exploit.
This is a must win for the Knights. They have lacked sting in attack and their defence has been diabolical at times. Coach Rick Stone has yet to make the big calls on some players but another loss on Saturday may force his hand.
Newcastle at home is always a tough trip and despite the form guide suggesting a win for the Raiders, the home ground advantage will be enough for the Novacastrians to get the two points.
Prediction Knights by 4.