Andrew Pelechaty previews the Easter Sunday evening clash between Newcastle and the New Zealand Warriors.
Newcastle Knights Vs New Zealand Warriors
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Date: Sunday April 9, 6:15pm
MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS
Knights: 1. Lachlan Miller 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Greg Marzhew 6. Phoenix Crossland 7. Jackson Hastings 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Leo Thompson 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Jack Johns 14. Kurt Mann 15. Jack Hetherington 16. Mathew Croker 17. Brodie Jones 18. Enari Tuala 19. Dylan Lucas 20. Thomas Cant 21. Hymel Hunt 22. Ryan Rivett
Warriors: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Edward Kosi 3. Viliami Vailea 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Bunty Afoa 11. Jackson Ford 12. Bayley Sironen 13. Tohu Harris 14. Dylan Walker 15. Josh Curran 16. Jazz Tevaga 17. Tom Ale 18. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 20. Taine Tuaupiki 21. Freddy Lussick 22. Ronald Volkman 23. Demitric Sifakula
Referee: Liam KennedyEmbed from Getty Images
Both Newcastle and the New Zealand Warriors have done surprisingly well in 2023: despite a horror injury toll, Newcastle have won two and drawn one (sitting just outside the eight), while the Warriors have won four from five – including two wins in Australia – to sit in second.
The Knights drew with Manly Warringah 32-32 off the back of Dominic Young’s four tries. Young’s last try was the most important, allowing Newcastle to send the game to Golden Point following a back-and-forth contest. This was off the back of a big win over Canberra, sealed with a six-minute, three-try burst in the second half.
The Warriors backed up their Round 3 win in Townsville (their first win in Australia since Round 8 last year), with an incredible comeback at Shark Park. Trailing 20-0 after 18 minutes, the Warriors got back to 26-12 at half-time, then dominated the second half. Tries to Shaun Johnson and Edward Kosi reduced the Sharks’ lead to two, and they didn’t panic when Ronaldo Mulitalo’s second try gave Cronulla-Sutherland a 30-24 lead. Josh Curran scored to tie the game with 13 minutes left, and 79th minute penalty goal to Johnson (finishing with 16 points) sealed the win after a late Nicho Hynes penalty shot was unsuccessful.
While this is a home game for Newcastle, they’ve struggled at McDonald Jones Stadium. Before the Raiders win, they had lost their last six games, starting Round 17, 2022.
And while the Warriors had previously lost 13 straight in Australia (including their relocated home games at Redcliffe), their recent wins over the Cowboys and Sharks will give them confidence.
The Warriors have the slightest edge over Newcastle since 1998, with a 23-21 record (and one draw). The Warriors and Knights met in Round 1 at Wellington, with the Warriors winning 20-12. The Knights won both games before that: 24-16 (Round 12, 2022) and 10-6 (Round 15, 2021).
Tyson Gamble is out for Newcastle, with Phoenix Crossland his replacement in the halves. Kurt Mann is back on the bench. Te Maire Martin and Tohu Harris both return for the Warriors.
On current form, the Warriors should enjoy their third win in Australia and cement their top four spot.
LAST TEN MATCHES
Newcastle 6, Warriors 4
Warriors by 10 points.
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