NRL Preview Round 27: Dragons Vs Knights

Andrew Pelechaty previews this Saturday night clash, with Newcastle aiming for nine straight wins heading into the finals.

MATCHDAY NEWS

MATCHDAY SCHEDULE

St George Illawarra Dragons Vs Newcastle Knights
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
Date: Saturday September 2, 7:35pm

MATCHDAY TEAM NEWS

Dragons: 1. Tyrell Sloan 2. Mathew Feagai 3. Moses Suli 4. Zac Lomax 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Talatau Amone 7. Ben Hunt 8. Francis Molo 9. Connor Muhleisen 10. Blake Lawrie 11. Billy Burns 12. Dan Russell 13. Jack de Belin 14. Jacob Liddle 15. Michael Molo 16. Ben Murdoch-Masila 17. Ryan Couchman 18. Toby Couchman 19. Jayden Sullivan 20. Alexander Lobb 21. Jaiyden Hunt 22. Viliami Fifita

Knights: 1. Lachlan Miller 2. Dominic Young 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bradman Best 5. Greg Marzhew 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Adam Clune 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Fa’amanu Brown 10. Leo Thompson 11. Dylan Lucas 12. Brodie Jones 13. Adam Elliott 14. Riley Jones 15. Daniel Saifiti 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Mathew Croker 18. Jack Johns 19. Oryn Keeley 20. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 21. Jackson Hastings 22. David Armstrong

Referee: Ben Cummins

Embed from Getty Images

MATCHDAY PREVIEW

Along with the New Zealand Warriors, Newcastle have been the Cinderella team of 2023. Two months ago, they were 14th with just five wins and a draw, and coach Adam O’Brien was under pressure.

Then, a 66-0 mauling of Canterbury-Bankstown (Round 18) started an eight-game winning run and a rise to fifth on the ladder. While Newcastle won’t get a top four spot, they’ve at least secured a home elimination final. Whoever they play in the first week of the finals will have a tough ask, as McDonald Jones Stadium will be packed with jubilant Knights fans eager to see their boys continue the winning run.

The big question: will Newcastle finish fifth or sixth? A win over St George Illawarra locks in fifth, while a loss will see the winner of Cronulla-Sutherland and Canberra jump into fifth.

Meanwhile, the Dragons will be looking forward to the end of another dramatic season. They’ve only won five games, had coach Anthony Griffin replaced by Ryan Carr (with Shane Flanagan taking over in 2024), and at one point looked like losing Ben Hunt mid-season. While they’ve lost nine in a row, they’ve been reasonably competitive in most of those games (aside from blowouts against the New Zealand Warriors and Cronulla).

For the Dragons, Jack de Belin returns from suspension. Mat Feagai replaces Sione Finau. No Kalyn Ponga for Newcastle – after suffering an AC shoulder injury – with Lachlan Miller replacing him. Tyson Frizell, Dane Gagai, and Phoenix Crossland are being rested; Brodie Jones, Enari Tuala, and Fa’amanu Brown come, while Riley Jones makes his NRL debut. 

While the Dragons have won the last two (21-16 in 2022 and 22-13 in 2021), expect Newcastle to warm up for their home elimination final with a comfortable win here.

LAST TEN MATCHES

Dragons 7, Knights 3.

MATCHDAY PREDICTION

Knights by 20 points.

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NRL Predictions: Round 27

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