NRL Round 11 – Match 1 Preview: Newcastle Knights v Wests Tigers

The opening round 11 match on Friday night is a very important one for the Wests Tigers who will play Newcastle at the Knight’s home ground, Energy Australia Stadium.

The Tigers are in trouble this season, lucky to be only in ninth spot on the ladder after suffering four successive defeats including their embarrassing 50 – 10 loss to the Rabbitohs last week.

Wests just haven’t been able to produce any of the magic moves that saw them have such a promising start to the season exploding out of the gates to win four of their first five rounds.

It is a very different story now with poor form, a massive loss last week, and uninspiring performances by all their top players including Benji Marshall. Good news for the Tigers though is that Marshall is ineligible for Origin and so they will have their star with them throughout the testing times of Origin.

Surprisingly despite all of this and the fact they are the visitors on Friday night, have the Tigers at equal odds with their rivals, both paying $1.91.

The Knights too have been below par this season and extremely inconsistent. Newcastle are well down the ladder in 12th spot after the first 10 weeks, having won just four games. Although hit-and-miss, they have displayed better form over the last month than the Tigers and have the home ground advantage here so we will be backing them this time.

Last week was a good win for them when they defeated the Sydney Roosters 34 – 18 and this should see them come into Friday’s match with confidence.

But they should be warned, the Tigers will be looking to step up in defence and atone for their dismal display last week.

However, if top try scorer Akuila Uate and the rest of the Knights can hack it without veteran halfback Kurt Gidley, named as the Blues captain, they should be ok.

Current Head-to-Head Odds: Knights $1.91 – Tigers $

Round 11 Knights Team:

1. Wes Naiqama 2. Akuila Uate 3. Junior S’au 4. Keith Luila 5. Cooper Vuna 6. Ben Rogers 7. Scott Dureau 8. Ben Cross 9. Matt Hilder 10. Dan Tolar 11. Steve Simpson (c) 12. Cory Paterson 13. Cameron Ciraldo

Bench: 14. George Ndaira 15. Mark Taufua 16. Richard Fa’aoso 17. Con Mika

Round 11 Tigers Team:

1. Beau Ryan 2. Daniel Fitzhenry 3. Geoff Daniela 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Lote Tuqiri 6. Benji Marshall 7. Robert Lui 8. Bryce Gibbs 9. Robbie Farah 10. Todd Payten 11. Mark Flanagan 12. Gareth Ellis 13. Chris Heighington

Bench: 14. Andrew Fifita 15. Junior Moors 16. Simon Dwyer 17. Mitch Brown

Reserve: 13. Josh Davis