Date: Saturday 4th April
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Knights 1.Kurt Gidley 2.James McManus 3.Dane Gagai 4.Joey Leilua 5.Akuila Uate 6.Jarrod Mullen 7.Tyrone Roberts 8.Kade Snowden 9.Adam Clydsdale 10.Dave Fa’alogo 11.Beau Scott 12.Tariq Sims 13.Jeremy Smith. Interchange: 14.Tyler Randell 15.Chris Houston 16.Paterika Vaivai 17.Jack Stockwell 18.Sione Mata’utia
Dragons: 1. Josh Dugan 2.Eto Nabuli 3.Euan Aitken 4.Dylan Farrell 5.Jason Nightingale 6. Gareth Widdop 7.Benji Marshall 8.Leeson Ah Mau 9.Mitch Rein 10.Mike Cooper 11.Tyson Frizell 12. Joel Thompson 13. Trent Merrin. Interchange: 14. George Rose 15. Jack de Belin 16. Jake Marketo 17. Heath L’Estrange 18. Rory O’Brien
The St George Illawarra Dragons and Newcastle Knights will play for the Alex McKinnon Cup this weekend when they clash at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night.
Both sides will head into the fixture on the back of a win. The Knights kept their perfect record in-tact when they knocked off last year’s preliminary finalists, the Penrith Panthers.
The Dragons weren’t that impressive but did enough to get the two points with a victory over the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at WIN Stadium.
In team news, the Knights off-season star recruit Tariq Sims makes his long-awaited debut after serving a suspension from last season. He replaces Joseph Tapine. In what seems to be a common recurrence for the Knights James McManus returns with Sione Mata’utia wearing the No.18 jersey once again.
The Dragons and head coach Paul McGregor have rewarded their players for their win last weekend with the team unchanged. This means that the experiment of Trent Merrin starting from the bench seems to be over.
The battle in this game will certainly come down to the halves. Both Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts have started the season strongly and will be hoping to push the unbeaten run to five for this season. On the other hand, Gareth Widdop and Benji Marshall have struggled to lead the team around. Widdop in particular has been disappointing after dominating the early stages of last season. It seems the inclusion of Marshall may have stunted his growth.
This game will have plenty of emotion playing for the McKinnon cup but while both teams are attached to the young man, the events that have transpired last season will push the Knights to a comfortable win.
Prediction Knights by 12.