Nathan Smith previews the Newcastle Knights hosting the Parramatta Eels. Here’s what we have to look forward to…
Newcastle Knights Vs Parramatta Eels
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Date: Sunday, 24th April, 2:00pm (local)
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Related: NRL Team List TuesdayEmbed from Getty Images
Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Enari Tuala 6. Jake Clifford 7. Adam Clune 8. David Klemmer 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Brodie Jones 13. Kurt Mann 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Leo Thompson 17. Sauaso Sue 18. Simi Sasagi 19. Pasami Saulo 20. Tex Hoy 21. Hymel Hunt 22. Jack Johns 23. Dylan Lucas 24. Jaron Purcell
Adam Clune returns after missing last week’s game due to a knee injury. As a result, Phoenix Crossland returns to the bench and Simi Sasagi shifts to 18th man.Embed from Getty Images
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Hayze Perham 3. Viliami Penisini 4. Tom Opacic 5. Bailey Simonsson 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Junior Paulo 11. Shaun Lane 12. Isaiah Papali’i 13. Nathan Brown 14. Makahesi Makatoa 15. Ryan Matterson 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Jakob Arthur 18. Bryce Cartwright 19. Mitch Rein 20. Wiremu Greig 21. Ky Rodwell 22. Samuel Loizou 23. Elie El Zakhem 24. Zac Cini
Co-Captain Junior Paulo returns after missing last week’s game through a suspension, which sees Oregon Kaufusi return to the bench. Marata Niukore is out, while Will Penisini moves back into centre with Hayze Perham starting on the wing. Jakob Arthur takes Mitch Rein’s spot on the bench.
Referee: Ashley Klein
Whenever one thinks of the history between the Knights and Eels, the 2001 grand final invariably comes up. It was the year the Eels broke all sorts of records and seemed unbeatable, yet lost when it mattered most to an underdog Knights team.
They’re not too dissimilar. Both sides boast salt of the earth supporters from proud, passionate rugby league regions of New South Wales. You’ve got the mining town that is Newcastle and one of the biggest cities out west of Sydney, Parramatta. Fans who will turn up rain, hail and shine, desperate to see their sides reach the pinnacle of the game once again.
The Eels’ season hit a snag last week when they lost in a huge upset to the Tigers. The Easter Monday match-up saw both teams battle it out to the very last seconds, with the Tigers getting the victory after Jackson Hastings planted a field goal to win the game. The Eels’ injuries are beginning to catch up on them, with Brad Arthur forced to field a few players out of position. Given the Eels’ will not have a fully fit team for some time, the question mark over this team is whether they have the mental resolve to put that aside and go on with the job.
After a strong opening couple of matches, the Knights have struggled. Having lost their past four games, the goal for them is pretty simple: get back on the winner’s list. Last week, they lost to a similarly out of form Dragons team they would have hoped to have defeated. If there’s one advantage this week, it’s that they won’t be short of inspiration, with a Sunday afternoon at McDonald Jones Stadium guaranteeing a big turnout will be there to cheer them on. Nothing short of a committed, 80-minute performance will ensure they prevent a fifth straight loss.
Kalyn Ponga is primed for a big game. His season has been, thus far, somewhat indifferent and injury interrupted, however last week saw some of his best work yet with 240 metres (more than any player on the field) and a try to boot. He is capable of much more than this and having now strung a few games back to back, the Knights can expect him to demonstrate more of his potential.
The Eels have had an unlucky run with injuries to their outside backs. This week, Hayze Perham becomes yet another winger coming into the team to cover. He is a handy player who demonstrated his ability and toughness last year in his single first grade outing in the final round of the regular season. Last week, Brad Arthur strangely opted to play him off of the bench, and as such, he had limited time to demonstrate his worth. This week he has a chance to nail a first grade spot, at least for a few weeks, and will be looking to take it with both hands.Embed from Getty Images
- These two teams have played 56 games against each other, with the Knights having won 30 to the Eels 25.
- Newcastle has a significant advantage at home against the Eels, having won 19 of their 29 encounters.
- The last time the Knights defeated the Eels was, coincidentally, round seven of 2019 at home. Omen?
Parramatta Eels 1-12
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