The Knights and the Rabbitohs both got their first points of the season last Saturday, and will be looking to build off their scrappy, but promising wins. Will the Newcastle faithful be celebrating two weeks in a row for the first time in nearly two years? Or will Robbie Farah be celebrating his 250th NRL game with a victory in red and green?
LAST TIME OUT
It was great seeing the Knights really have a dig on Old Boys Day in Newcastle last week. The team has some significant improvement in them since last year’s disaster, and although they just fell short against the Warriors in Round 1, they definitely made up for it with their spirited win over the injury-depleted Gold Coast. The Knights never gave up despite the score see sawing at multiple times during the match, and plenty of young guns stood up to the plate, including Brock Lamb, Sam Stone and Luke Yates, who will no doubt feature prominently in the future.
The Rabbitohs were slow to start against the Sea Eagles at Lottoland, but after gaining some momentum thanks to the likes of Robbie Farah, Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker, they piled on the points against a disappointing Manly outfit. Despite the loss of Greg Inglis, his replacement Alex Johnston was a key figure, scoring a double, including the match winner. The Knights will be looking to shut him down considering he has never scored less than 2 tries a game against them, totally 9 in his 4 matches against them.
It’s easy to pit two halfbacks together and call it a key battle, but in this situation it’s exactly what I’m going to do; and for good reason.
Trent Hodkinson and Adam Reynolds are both very similar players when it comes to their organisation and kicking games, both in general play and taking conversions, but both players are the most important in their respective teams.
The two former NSW no. 7’s are the key to their side’s success. We’ve seen the catastrophic results when Souths have been without Reynolds, and the absence of Jarrod Mullen due to drug charges means newly appointed captain Hodkinson has all the pressure on him to guide the Knights.
It’s going to be a game of the boot in Newcastle this Saturday, and with reported wet conditions, the kicking of both halfbacks is going to be as important as ever.
Last weeks’ wins for both teams are great stepping stones to launch their campaign off. Both sides never gave up despite some one sided leads and that tenacity and teamwork lead to famous victories.
The Knights will have plenty of confidence coming off last round but they’ll need to back it up against a team they haven’t beaten since Round 26 2011. Souths need to start better if they’re to really challenge Newcastle and risk getting into an arm wrestle that the home side are more than welcome to get into.
The major difference between the sides is experience in the spine which is such a key factor in the modern game, and with Robbie Farah’s milestone game, as well as the return of Robbie Rochow, I can’t see South Sydney dropping this one.
Rabbitohs by 10.
Newcastle Knights vs. South Sydney Rabbitohs at McDonald Jones Stadium, 4:30 (AEDT) Saturday
Knights: 1. Brendan Elliot 2. Ken Sio 3. Dane Gagai 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Nathan Ross 6. Brock Lamb 7. Trent Hodkinson (C) 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Dani Levi 10. Josh Starling 11. Sione Mata’utia 12. Jamie Buhrer 13. Mitch Barnett 14. Luke Yates 15. Jack Stockwell 16. Sam Stone 17. Jacob Saifiti 18. Jacob Gagan 19. Josh Wardle 20. Josh King 21. Anthony Tupou
Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston 2. Braidon Burns 3. Hymel Hunt 4. Robert Jennings 5. Bryson Goodwin 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Zane Musgrove 9. Robbie Farah 10. Jason Clark 11. John Sutton 12. Kyle Turner 13. Sam Burgess (C) 14. Damien Cook 15. Angus Crichton 16. Robbie Rochow 17. George Burgess 18. Siosifa Talakai 19. Anthony Cherrington 20. Cameron Murray 21. Tom Burgess