Usually a match between second last and last on the competition ladder wouldn’t be a great highlight for many rugby league fans, but this particular game may well be full of individual highlights. After all, both the Knights and Tigers have proven that they can score points on their day. They can also let them in.
LAST TIME OUT
Sorry Knights fans, but we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t bring up last week. And yes, that means talking about both halves of the game against the Dragons. The first half was incredible. It was superb. It was champagne rugby league. The second half? Well, let’s just say that when a team gives up an 18-point lead and loses by another four points, things haven’t gone well. Unfortunately for Nathan Brown’s team, this was the seventh time this season that a halftime lead had somehow disappeared into thin air. If only the game went for 40 minutes.
The Tigers, without Origin fullback James Tedesco, slumped to their seventh loss in a row. We’re not sure what kind of “bus” Ivan Cleary has brought with him to Concord, but it’s fair to say it has stalled. To make matters worse, the struggling Gold Coast Titans were the benefactors in a much-needed win. Both teams were in the hunt in the early stages, but the distinct lack of goal line defence brought the Tigers undone with several soft tries contributing to the loss.
Both fullbacks have the ability to take over this game and will be a focal point of attack for both the Knights and Tigers. The “Ross Dog” Nathan Ross will be looking to further cement his spot in his new position after scoring a hat-trick against the Dragons last week. Ross, already looked upon to provide a spark for the Novocastrians when times are tough, will be looking to inject himself into the action early and often in the hope of breaking the Tigers line.
Tedesco will be looking to do exactly the same thing for his team. He will also be looking to make up for missing out on last week’s match against the Titans where he may well have been able to turn the game the Tigers way if he had been on the paddock. With Origin III just around the corner, “Teddy” will also be looking to shake off the tough loss to the Maroons in the only way he knows how – by becoming a nightmare for opposition defences.
Both the Knights and Tigers are struggling, yet both teams will like their chances here. However, it looks more than likely that this game will be a high scoring affair with both teams guilty of ranking 14th and 15th respectively in ‘points against’ so far this season. However, the Knights will also be buoyed by the fact that the Tigers were their solitary victim in 2016. It is also the Voice for Mining Family Day at McDonald Jones Stadium this Sunday, a day where the Knights wear their “hi-vis” jersey in support for the local mining industry. That might just be enough for a home team win.
Knights by 4
Knights v Tigers, Sunday 2 July, 2pm at McDonald Jones Stadium
Knights: 1. Nathan Ross 2. Ken Sio 3. Dane Gagai 4. Peter Mata’utia 5. Brendan Elliott 6. Brock Lamb 7. Jaelen Feeney 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Danny Levi 10. Josh King 11. Sione Mata’utia 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Mitchell Barnett 14. Jamie Buhrer 15. Joe Wardle 16. Tyler Randell 17. Jacob Saifiti 18. Sam Mataora 19. Sam Stone 20. Trent Hodkinson 21. Josh Starling
Tigers: 1. James Tedesco, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Esan Marsters, 4. Moses Suli, 5. Kevin Naiqama, 6. Tuimoala Lolohea, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Aaron Woods (Captain), 9. Jacob Liddle, 10. Ava Seumanufagai, 11. Sauaso Sue, 12. Kyle Lovett, 13. Elijah Taylor. Interchange: 14. Matt Eisenhuth, 15. JJ Felise, 16. Michael Chee Kam, 17. Matt McIlwrick, 18. Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 19. Jack Littlejohn, 20. Joel Edwards, 21. Alex Twal