The Newcastle Knights this weekend host the Bulldogs for their final home game of the 2015 season and as a tradition, celebrate their past players.
The final home game of the regular season for the Knights is known as ‘Old Boys Day’ and although they will not be competing for a spot in the finals this year, the day will have added motivation for the Knights players as they say farewell to their skipper and of the Knights best for over 10 years, Kurt Gidley.
Saturday is understandably going to be an emotional occasion for Gidley, but as he told Knights TV, he’s confident he can remain focused on seeing out the season in a positive way.
“It’s a great thrill for me to lead the guys out through the guard of honour of Old Boys and to do it one last time on a special milestone for myself in front of them, it couldn’t have worked out any better,” he said.
After winning their last two games, Newcastle's cause to make it three in row is sure to be helped by the support of a large contingent of former Knights greats who gather for the last home game of the year and with only a five day turnaround, Knights winger Nathan Ross knows the team need to refocus for their encounter with the Bulldogs.
“We only have five days to turn around and give it our best on Old Boys Day,” Ross told Knights TV.
Despite their final home game being a momentous occasion for the home side, Bulldogs fullback Brett Morris knows Saturday night won’t be an easy task.
“Newcastle at home is never an easy task. They always step up when they play at home and we will definitely have our hands full,” Morris said.
It will be a massive task for the Bulldogs when you look at the record books for the clashes with Newcastle and the results of their past 15 final home games dating back to 2000.
The Knights have won 12 of their past 15 final home games, including a 54-6 win over the Eels in 2013, three wins over the Panthers in 2009 - 35 nil, 40-4 in 2006 and a 60-18 victory back in 2001.
Seven of their 12 wins have seen the home side score 40 or more points and their three defeats were in 2012, 2010 and 2007.
The last time the Bulldogs played the Knights on “Old Boys Day’ was way back in 2000 and the result fell the way of the home side, a 28-16 win.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs current record against the Knights stands in favour of the 14th placed side.
The Knights have won six of the last 10, including three of the past five and the Bulldogs last win at Hunter Stadium was back in round 22 of the 2012 season.
Outsiders will be predicting the Bulldogs to come away with the two points, but it won’t be that easy.
In the past the Bulldogs have fallen victims to games they should have won and although the game has so much meaning for the Knights, winger Sam Perrett knows this game just as much if not more meaning for the Bulldogs.
“We know we have let games like this slide in the past and come this time of the season we can’t afford to let any more opportunities to go, “Perrett added.
“This is their home game, they have a lot to play for and we know they will be ready to go, but we have to match that and hopefully better it.”