MATCH PREVIEW | Newcastle Knights vs Gold Coast Titans

Andrew Pelechaty previews the clash between two underwhelming teams: Newcastle and the Gold Coast.

TEAM FORM GUIDE

Newcastle Knights

At the halfway mark of 2019, Newcastle (9-13) were knocking on the top four and looked like breaking their finals drought. Now, with two games left, they can almost start planning for 2020. After coach Nathan Brown stepped down, the Knights fell to their seventh loss in eight games, belted 46-4 by the Wests Tigers. The Knights were kept scoreless until the 72nd minute, with Aidan Guerra scoring Newcastle’s only try. Brown left the coaching seat on Tuesday, so a big win against the hopeless Titans is necessary to restore morale in their last home game of the season.

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Gold Coast Titans

In another tight year, the Gold Coast Titans (4-18) have been the embarrassing exception. They’ve lost nine in a row, and are three games behind in last place. It’s even worse considering their strong mid-season away wins against Manly-Warringah and Brisbane showed they can play decent footy. It’s not much fun on the Gold Coast at the moment, with the AFL’s Suns claiming the wooden spoon with a 3-19 season.

SQUAD NEWS

Newcastle Knights

In Newcastle’s only change, Connor Watson starts at hooker, with Danny Levi sidelined (rib).

Newcastle Knights’ squad: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Bradman Best 3. Sione Mata’utia 4. Hymel Hunt 5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 6. Mason Lino 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Connor Watson 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Mitchell Barnett 13. Tim Glasby 14. Jacob Saifiti 15. Herman Ese’ese 16. Josh King 17. Aidan Guerra 18. Kurt Mann 19. James Gavet 20. Tautau Moga 21. Chris Randall.

Gold Coast Titans

Jarrod Wallace returns at prop, Jai Arrow moves to lock, and Nathan Peats goes to hooker for Mitch Rein (suspended).

Gold Coast Titans’ squad: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Jesse Arthars 3. Kallum Watkins 4. Brian Kelly 5. Phillip Sami 6. Tyrone Peachey 7. Ryley Jacks 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Moeaki Fotuaika 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Sam Stone 13. Jai Arrow 14. Alexander Brimson 15. Jai Whitbread 16. Bryce Cartwright 17. Will Matthews 18. Anthony Don 19. Jack Stockwell 20. Ash Taylor 21. Tanah Boyd.

HEAD TO HEAD

These two sides last played back in round six on the Gold Coast, with the Titans winning 38-14, scoring 6 tries to 3. It was a turning point for Newcastle: their last loss before their six-game winning streak that took them to the edge of the top four. It’s been pretty even between these two, with 2 wins each in 2018 and 2017.

KEY BATTLE

Kayln Ponga v Michael Gordon

It’s hard to find a decent key battle as most of the Titans have been ordinary. Michael Gordon has been one player to actually put in effort, with 3 tries and 25 goals from 14 games.

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Gordon is up against Kalyn Ponga. While Ponga is one of the NRL’s emerging superstars, he has struggled as the Knights have collapsed post-Origin. Criticism of his financial worth hasn’t helped either. A strong finish to the season will be vital for Ponga to regain his confidence heading into 2020.

 

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THE IMPORTANT DETAILS

Date: Saturday August 31st.
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium.
Kick-off: 3pm

WHO WILL WIN?

While their season is all but gone, Newcastle need to win – and win well – to salvage some pride and reward their hardy home fans. Newcastle’s proud home record is an underwhelming 5-6, so a win will a least bring them back square. They destroyed North Queensland a fortnight ago, so they can turn it on when needed.

Newcastle by 20.

 

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