Julian Vella takes a look at the Newcastle Knights draw for season 2020.
Newcastle will kick off their 2020 season at home once again after doing so for the past two seasons, this time though it won’t be in the dreaded Friday 6pm time slot, instead they’ll take on the Warriors on Saturday at 3pm which should help boost crowd numbers.
After that though the Knights will spend the majority of the season’s opening third on the road, with five of their next seven games on the road, although two of those games could be seen as ‘neutral venues’ as the Raiders have opted to take their home game against the Knights to Wagga Wagga, whilst the Knights Round 8 match in Magic Round will be counted as a home game for the Rabbitohs.
That Round 8 fixture against the Rabbitohs kicks off a difficult seven match run for the Knights as they face up against the last seasons’ top three sides the Roosters, Storm & Rabbitohs (twice), whilst also the Sharks, Panthers and Dragons who are all destined to be battling for the top 8 spot with the Knights.
The Knights’ last ten matches are more favourable with only the four matches against sides who made the top 8 last year, that being the Broncos (twice), Eels and Manly. Five of their last ten will also be at home, so despite there being no ‘easy games’ in the NRL, the Knights should be backing themselves to go on a good run to finish the year and push for a finals berth.
Overall the Knights will be happy with the draw they’ve been given, considering they only have to play the Roosters, Storm and Raiders once they can consider themselves very lucky. They’ll also enjoy the luxury of a good rest between matches, having only one ‘five day turn around’.