NRL Round 14 – Match 3 Preview: Newcastle Knights v NZ Warriors

The first match on Sunday afternoon has the tiering Warriors travel across the Tasman to take on the Knights at Newcastle’s Energy Australia Stadium.

The Knights are now well down the ladder on the 12th rung after they suffered their eighth loss of the season last week going down 28 – 10 to the in-form Panthers. And the Warriors aren’t doing much better either, coming off two losses and sitting at number 11.

If either team are to have any chance of making the finals this year, they must win this one.

Two weeks ago New Zealand were thrashed 50 – 6 by the Tigers, but then held on well last week to go down by just two points when the Dragons defeated them 22 – 20. Vatuvei and Ta’ai led a tough team, but in the end they just didn’t have the strength.

As the Warriors are never brilliant away from home, Newcastle are installed as the $1.55 favourites at with New Zealand the $2.45 underdogs.

And in another blow for the Warriors they must play on without Brent Tate, who broke his jaw in their game against St George last week. Tate joins a growing list of injured Warriors that includes Brett Seymour, Sam Rapira and Steve Price.

The Knights, however, will be without Gidley who has again been named as the Blues captain for Origin II. They still have plenty of classy players who will be able to pull out the moves that will stall New Zealand including giant winger Akuila Uate and five-eighth Jarrod Mullen.

This is a big match for Newcastle’s Dan Tolar, who has been named as replacement skipper for Gidley, and for MacDougall and McManus still not 100% after returning from injury.

A tricky one to pick with stats going both ways. At Energy Australia Stadium the Knights have won seven to the Warriors four, but it is the Warriors who have had the most recent success with six wins from the last eight times these two have met.

We are going the Knights, but without too much confidence.

Current Head-to-Head Odds: Knights $1.55 – Warriors $2.45

Round 14 Knights Team:

1. Wes Naiqama 2. Akuila Uate 3. Junior Sa’u 4. Adam MacDougall 5. James McManus 6. Jarrod Mullen 7. Scott Dureau 8. Ben Cross 9. Isaac De Gois 10. Dan Tolar (c) 11. Zeb Taia 12. Cory Paterson 13. Matt Hilder

Bench: 14. Con Mika 15. Cameron Ciraldo 16. Richie Fa’aoso 17. Mark Taufua

Round 14 Warriors Team:

1. Lance Hohaia 2. Kevin Locke 3. Joel Moon 4. Jerome Ropati 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. James Maloney 7. Isaac John 8. Jesse Royal 9. Aaron Heremaia 10. Russell Packer 11. Simon Mannering (c) 12. Ukuma Ta’ai 13. Michael Luck

Bench: 14. Ian Henderson 15. Ben Matulino 16. Jeremy Latimore 17. Lewis Brown