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Newcastle Knights vs Melbourne Storm Tips - Storm to hit a wall of Blue and Red in Newcastle

ryan-tucker
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Last updated: 23 Mar 2024
Ryan Tucker 23 Mar 2024
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  • Newcastle Knights vs Melbourne Storm expert predictions for Sunday’s Round 3 NRL game
  • Kick off is at 6:15 PM at McDonald Jones Stadium
  • Despite a challenging start to the season, the Knights' second-half performances are expected to improve leading them to victory.
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Bradman Best
Bradman Best of the Knights (Getty Images)

Newcastle Knights vs Melbourne Storm Tips


The Knights can secure their first win of the season against an understrength Storm this Sunday at McDonald Jones Stadium.

With their starting halves missing the Storm will have trouble with their direction in this game against the Knights. Jonah Pezet has done his job filling in for Cam Munster but the kicking game and direction of Hughes will be sorely missed for a team that relies so much on routine and structure. 

Newcastle have not had the start to the season that many had expected falling to 0-2. The Knights have been in the game in both contests but it has been their second half performances that have led to them losing back to back games for the first time since Rd 16 & 17 last year.

Even before the Storm lineup was confirmed the Data Modelling had this game going to the Knights 24-22 but with only .07% difference between the win expectation for both teams. This means it will no doubt be close and we need to weigh in the effect of no Hughes, Munster, Welch and Asofa-Solomona in terms of points. My expectation is that Melbourne will have trouble gaining significant territorial advantage with both Wishart and Pezet’s kicking games not up to the same level of Hughes. Newcastle will win outright and cover the line.

  • Jonah Pezet is averaging only 235 kicking metres per game 
  • Melbourne have had only 31% and 34% Territory across their first two games
  • Newcastle were tackled 62 times in their Opposition 20m zone in their first two games
  • 4 of the Knights 5 Tries in their 2023 win over Melbourne came down the left side of the field

Head to Head 


Melbourne have well and truly owned the head to head against Newcastle since 2019 having won 5 of 6 games. Newcastle though were the last team to have success winning the only match-up of 2023 with a comeback victory 26-18. 

Prior to Newcastle’s win all five of the Storm’s winning games were by margins of 10 or more points with three games all over 30 point margins. 

Melbourne covered as Favourites in all but one of their wins with Newcastle covering as Underdogs in 2023. The Over/Under is split 3-3. 

Newcastle Knights Form


Newcastle were only two points behind Canberra at half time in round 1 and led the Cowboys 12-0 at half time last weekend. 

Both times the Knights clocked off in the second half allowing their opponents to get the better of them and wrap the game up.

Newcastle haven’t been without their opportunities being tackled in their Opposition 20m zone a combined 61 times in the first two games but scoring only five tries hitting at a rate of 12.4 which is 5th worst in the league. 

Newcastle Knights Team News


Dylan Lucas returns to the line-up but is named in the reserves together with Jackson Hastings who has been dropped following Newcastle’s two straight losses. Jack Cogger will start at half-back. Enari Tuala fills the wing spot left open by the injury to Greg Marzhew.

Jayden Brailey returns from injury via the bench utility role.

Newcastle Knights Team List


1. Kalyn Ponga
2. Tom Jenkins
3. Dane Gagai
4. Bradman Best
5. Enari Tuala
6. Tyson Gamble
7. Jack Cogger
8. Jacob Saifiti
9. Phoenix Crossland
10. Leo Thompson
11. Tyson Frizell
12. Kai Pearce-Paul
13. Adam Elliott

Interchange
14. Jayden Brailey
15. Daniel Saifiti
16. Jack Hetherington 
17. Jed Cartwright

Reserves
18. Brodie Jones
19. Will Pryce
20. Mat Croker
21. Dylan Lucas
​​​​​​​22. Jackson Hastings

Melbourne Storm Form


Melbourne have been involved in two monster battles to start the year both of which could easily have been different outcomes.

A miraculous game winning try last weekend and some immaculate goal line defence in round 1 has led the Storm to a 2-0 record despite being outdone statistically in both games. 

As we are well aware it is normally results that regress to the data mean rather than the team building up the stats to their actual results. The numbers will catch up on the Storm especially the Territory which they have been far behind both of their opponents.

Melbourne Storm Team News


Cam Munster remains on the sidelines with a groin injury with Jonah Pezet keeping his job at five-eighth. With Jahrome Hughes suspended Tyan Wishart will start at half-back. 

Christian Welch is out with concussion protocol and Nelson Asofa-Solomona is still nowhere to be seen.

Melbourne Storm Team List


1. Ryan Papenhuyzen
2. Will Warbrick
3. Reimis Smith
4. Nick Meaney
5. Xavier Coates
6. Jonah Pezet
7. Tyran Wishart
8. Tui Kamikamica
9. Harry Grant
10. Josh King
11. Joe Chan
12. Eli Katoa
13. Trent Loiero

Interchange
14. Kane Bradley
15. Tepai Moeroa
16. Chris Lewis
17. Alec MacDonald

Reserves
18. Grant Anderson
19. Aaron Pene
20. Jack Howarth
21. Marion Seve
​​​​​​​22. Shawn Blore

Verdict

I have tipped Melbourne to be a top 4 team at the end of this year and considering the performance in their first two outings it seems it is the right pick. 

But numbers don’t lie and the Storm are on borrowed time so to speak. They will struggle for field position this week leading the Knights to capitalise on their opportunities and win the game.
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Newcastle Knights v Melbourne Storm