The Warriors, disappointed by their controversial loss to the Storm host a Knights side that stopped their five-match losing streak with a strong showing against the impressive Paramatta Eels.
Team Form Guide
New Zealand Warriors
The Warriors showed heart on Anzac day against the Storm and were close to landing the upset of the season, but a controversial referee decision and the Warriors lack of a match-winning half allowed the Storm to sneak home with a 1 point victory.
If the Warriors are to break their three-match losing streak, they will need to learn to close out matches.
Having not tasted victory since round 1, the Knights looked to be on their way to another wooden spoon, but after a strong performance against the Eels, they have shown that they have plenty of fight left.
They need to keep the momentum from round 7 flowing if they want to get their first back to back wins since round 18 & 19 of last season.
New Zealand Warriors
The Warriors look set to welcome back Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Blake Green and David Fusitu’a.
These returns see Tohu Harris return to the second row alongside Isaiah Papali’i who has replaced Adam Blair In the starting line-up.
Gerard Beale and Blair move to the interchange bench with Jazz Tevaga not being named due to a calf injury sustained against the Storm.
New Zealand Warriors 21-Man Squad: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, 2. David Fusitu’a, 3. Peta Hiku, 4. Patrick Herbert, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 7. Blake Green, 8. Agnatius Paasi, 9. Issac Luke, 10. Leeson Ah Mau, 11. Isaiah Papali’i, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Lachlan Burr, 14. Nathaniel Roache, 15. Adam Blair, 16. Bunty Afoa, 17. Gerard Beale, 18. Hayze Perham, 20. Solomone Kata, 21. Ligi Sao, 23. Chris Satae
No changes have been made to the Knights 17 that defeated the Eels in round 7.
Newcastle Knights 21-Man Squad: 1. Kalyn Ponga, 2. Edrick Lee, 3. Hymel Hunt, 4. Jesse Ramien, 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6. Connor Watson, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Daniel Saifiti, 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 12. Mitchell Barnett, 13. Tim Glasby, 14. Sione Mata’utia, 15. Herman Ese’ese, 16. James Gavet, 17. Josh King, 18. Mason Lino, 19. Kurt Mann, 20. Jamie Buhrer, 21. Pasami Saulo
Head to Head
Played: 37, Warriors 20, Knights 16, 1 Draw
Latest Result: Warriors 20-4, Round 22, 2018
All eyes will be on the superstar fullbacks in this week’s key battle, despite their team’s struggles, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Kayln Ponga have been the lightning rods that electrify their attack.
Until being ruled out with injury last week, Tuivasa-Sheck had been head and shoulders above his teammates and Warrior’s fans will be expecting a strong return from their captain.
After a less than stellar start to the season, Ponga returned to fullback and has started to show the form that saw him climb the Dally M table last season, and he will need a repeat of last weeks effort to keep the Knights in the winners’ circle.
The Important Details
Date: Sunday, 5th May
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Kick-Off: 2:00 PM (4:00 PM NZ Time)
Who Will Win?
The Warriors attitude against the Storm, minus their key players was promising, and that attitude needs be present once again if the Warriors are to win on Sunday. The return of Tuivasa-Sheck and Fusitu’a adds serious strike power to the Warriors backline, and with Greens return, the Warriors have an experienced playmaker that can direct the team around the park with authority, if the Warriors can unleash their backline they will be hard to stop.
The Knights backline stole the limelight last week but it was the hard work done by their forwards that brought them to the party, and they will need a repeat performance this week. If the forwards gain the advantage up the middle, Ponga and Mitchell Pearce will need to target the Warriors weak edge defence and keep the pressure on the Warriors for 80 minutes.
I see the Warriors walking away with the victory here, despite losing against the Storm last week, they were the better side and will be desperate to break their losing streak. Green will give them the match closing ability that has been lacking for the past three rounds, and their backline will be too much for the Knights to contain.
Warriors by 16