The Newcastle Knights host the West Tigers at home in the most important games of the round.
A loss for the Tigers will see them risk losing touch with the top eight, while the Novocastrians' finals aspirations out of the eight.
Knights Form & Team News
After a year to forget in their hooking department, the Knights have lost three top flight players Blake Brailey, Andrew McCullough and Connor Watson for the season.
With the mid-week acquisition of Blake Green from the Warriors, Kurt Mann moves to hooker for Green who slots immediately into five-eighth.
Centre pairing Bradman Best (ankle) and Tautau Moga (dropped) are out, replaced by Gehamat Shibasaki and Star Toa who pushes to the wing, with Enari Tuala shifting into centre. Brodie Jones replaces the suspended Pasami Saulo on the bench.
The Newcastle Knights team for Saturday can be found below:
1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Starford To'a 3. Enari Tuala 4. Gehamat Shibasaki 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Blake Green 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Kurt Mann 10. Jacob Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Mitchell Barnett 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Josh King 16. Herman Ese'ese 17. Brodie Jones 18. Chris Randall 19. Tex Hoy 20. Mason Lino 21. Jirah Momoisea
Tigers Form & Team News
Tigers coach Michael Macguire was far from impressed with his teams performance last week against the Warriors, tearing his team to shreds after the match.
Macquire has made mass changes for this weeks team after injuries to Harry Grant (knee) and Alex Twal (ribs), forcing Moses Mbye to slot into hooker and Matt Eisenhuth at lock.
Tommy Talau moves into centre with Asu Kepaoa debuting on the wing. Joey Leilua (suspension) returns for Chris Lawrence who drops to the bench, Luke Brooks returns to five-eighth with Billy Walters on the bench, Russell Packer (suspension) and Sam McIntyre start, with Ollie Clark and Luke Garner dropping to the reserves.
The Wests Tigers team list for Saturday can be found below:
1. Adam Doueihi 2. David Nofoaluma 3. Joey Leilua 4. Tommy Talau 5. Asu Kepaoa 6. Luke Brooks 7. Benji Marshall 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Moses Mbye 10. Russell Packer 11. Luciano Leilua 12. Sam McIntyre 13. Matt Eisenhuth 14. Thomas Mikaele 15. Shawn Blore 16. Chris Lawrence 17. Billy Walters 18. Alex Seyfarth 19. Luke Garner 20. Josh Reynolds 21. Elijah Taylor
Knights vs Tigers Head To Head
The Knights and Tigers have gone head-to-head on 29 occasions since 1998 and have only been separated by one game, with the Tigers winning 15 of the 29 matches
Knights vs Tigers Betting Odds
The Knights are the $1.57 favourites while Tiger backers can get a $2.40 return on their bets.
Wests get a +4 point head start on Saturday afternoon.
Knights vs Tigers Match Up
Kurt Mann and Moses Mbye have been thrust into the hooker roles on the back of injuries to their respective side’s star hookers, and how each player handles their new role will be essential towards their teams chances.
Moses Mbye has played plenty of dummy-half in his career, particularly at the Bulldogs where Des Hasler saw him as a potential origin player in the position. Possessing a crisp pass and a gun left boot, Mbye will have to stand up to steer his young pack around the park.
On the other hand, Kurt Mann is a straightforward effort player who excels playing a supportive role for Knight’s stars Mitch Pearce and Kalyn Ponga. The side’s attack will unlikely be impacted, and if he can hold his own defensively in the middle it will go along way towards his sides chances of winning.
Knights vs Tigers Key Stats
- The Knights are $1.57 favourites to defeat the Tigers ($2.40)
- The Knights and Tigers can barely be separated this season, both completing their sets-of-six at 80 per cent, tackling at 90 per cent efficiency, but the Knights have secured one extra win over the Tigers this season
- The Knights have won 2/5 home games this season but host five of their last seven matches at home