NRL Semi-Final Preview: Warriors Vs Knights

Check out the match preview and prediction for the NRL Semi-Final clash between the Warriors and Knights.



New Zealand Warriors Vs Newcastle Knights
Venue: Go Media Stadium, Auckland
Date: Saturday 16th September, 4:05pm


New Zealand Warriors: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Rocco Berry 4. Adam Pompey 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Te Maire Martin 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Addin Fonua-Blake 9. Wayde Egan 10. Mitchell Barnett 11. Jackson Ford 12. Marata Niukore 13. Tohu Harris 14. Dylan Walker 15. Jazz Tevaga 16. Bayley Sironen 17. Josh Curran 18. Freddy Lussick 20. Taine Tuaupiki 21. Bunty Afoa 22. Tom Ale 23. Edward Kosi

Newcastle Knights: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Dominic Young 3. Dane Gagai 4. Bradman Best 5. Greg Marzhew 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Adam Clune 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Phoenix Crossland 10. Leo Thompson 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Dylan Lucas 13. Adam Elliott 14. Kurt Mann 15. Daniel Saifiti 16. Jack Hetherington 17. Mathew Croker 18. Brodie Jones 19. Enari Tuala 20. Fa’amanu Brown 21. Lachlan Miller 22. Jack Johns

Referee: Adam Gee

Embed from Getty Images


Saturday night’s Semi-Final is one few punters would have predicted at the season’s start: two teams that have shared limited success in previous seasons find themselves two wins away from featuring in the 2023 Grand Final. The Warriors, who have won the hearts of their nation, and the Knights, who have rewarded their ever-loyal fans with a streak that sits at ten straight.

The Warriors’ first finals match since 2018 wasn’t one to remember, having convincingly lost to the Panthers at 32-6. It was clear that, though no team can pin their hopes on one player, they lacked direction in attack with Shaun Johnson missing. The good news is he returns this week, which will add a much-needed boost. This puts Dylan Walker back on the bench, with the same team otherwise named. Beyond the players that take to the field, the atmosphere in Auckland will be something to behold, and the Warriors players will be basking in it as they look to move on to a Preliminary Final.

While the Warriors welcome their halfback back into the team, the Knights find themselves without their own. Jackson Hastings is out with an ankle injury, which sees Adam Clune return to the side. Lachlan Fitzgibbon will also miss out, bringing impressive youngster Dylan Lucas in. Last week, the Knights found a way to win against a determined Raiders side, though it wasn’t easy. Ultimately, it was a penalty goal in extra time that got them home. They will be hoping to recover and get themselves ready for Saturday, with the extra minutes on the field in what was an absorbing game undoubtedly exhausting.

If the Warriors are to win in front of their home fans, they will need to hold the ball more often. Last week, with only 43% of the possession, they were always going to be fighting an uphill battle. This was only compounded by committing 14 errors and conceding six penalties. They’re a better team than what they presented. Shaun Johnson should help fix up their possession, with his ability to manage a game in 2023 as good as it’s ever been. Furthermore, they will need to nullify the likes of Dominic Young, who has been unstoppable in recent weeks, both with his ball-carrying and finishing. Look to the likes of Marcelo Montoya and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to be physical in their opposing numbers’ faces.

For the Knights, it’s about doing what’s worked over the past couple of months: having players doing their jobs with Ponga orchestrating the attack. He will take on a bit more responsibility with Hastings missing, though Adam Clune will be just as handy to have on the field. Their outside backs have become some of the form players in the competition, and they can do no worse than simply finding them space and letting them go. Dane Gagai will be looking for a bit of a redemption game this week, having had a few poor moments against the Raiders. Ultimately, their fate will lie in how well they can minimise errors and maximise opportunities in what will be a tough trip away from home.


Warriors 4, Knights 6


Warriors by 13

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