2018 NRL – Newcastle Knights vs Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Preview

AT A GLANCE

When? Friday 9th March, 07:00 (UK)

Where? McDonald Jones Stadium

What channel is it on? Sky Sports Arena, Foxtel

Where can I stream the match? Sky Sports subscribers can stream the match online via Sky Go

https://www.foxtel.com.au/outa...

https://www.telstra.com.au/tv-...

Are tickets still available? http://www.ticketmaster.com.au...

THE LOWDOWN

KNIGHTS

Head Coach: Nathan Brown

Starting 13: Ponga, Kenny-Dowall, S. Mata'utia, Moga, Ross, Watson, Pearce, Ese'ese, Griffin, Lillyman, Fitzgibbon, Aidan Guerra, Mitchell Barnett – Interchanges: Brock Lamb, Heighington, Buhrer, Saifiti – Reserves: Sio, Saifiti, Levi, Yates

Unavailable: Pat Mata'utia

  • After three successive seasons finishing with the wooden spoon, Newcastle Knights will be hoping an impressive recruitment drive can see them challenge for the play-offs this year.
  • Nathan Brown is set to give nine players a club debut against Manly which highlights the magnitude of their recruitment. Their most impressive signings come in the form of Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce who will form part of a new-look spine for the Knights.
  • Newcastle have only won six matches in the last two seasons, spanning 48 games. It will take a big change in fortunes for the Knights to challenge but they have been building to this point and will hope that the added experience to their ranks this year will be the catalyst to kick on.

SEA EAGLES

Head Coach: Trent Barrett

Starting 13: T. Trbojevic, Taufua, Wright, Kelly, Uate, Croker, Cherry-Evans, Fonua-Blake, Koroisau, Taupau, Thompson, Sironen, J. Trbojevic – Interchanges (from): Brown, Lane, Winterstein, Tanginoa, Parker, Perrett

Unavailable: Dylan Walker, Darcy Lussick

  • Manly finished the 2017 NRL season in sixth-place but fell to a disappointing defeat in the first week of the finals as Penrith Panthers beat them 10-22.
  • After a relatively low-key off-season with few ins and outs, Trent Barrett will be hoping Daly Cherry-Evans can lead his side once again alongside new halfback partner Lachlan Croker after Blake Green departed for New Zealand Warriors.
  • The loss of Green will be an interesting one for Manly with Croker having big boots to fill. Green helped his side to achieve an average of 22.5 points per game last season but that number will need to increase if Manly are to really pose a threat.

THE PREDICTION

Newcastle have it all to prove this season as they look to avoid a fourth consecutive last-place finish as they begin their campaign with a tricky tie at home to Manly. The Knights have had problems all over the pitch over the last few years but perhaps their biggest issue has been their defence which allowed 27 points per game last season and will need rectifying. All of the hype surrounding this game centres on Newcastle’s recruitment and they can kick-start their new era with a win.