It's a big week for Newcastle, with four of the club's players involved in the Origin series decider.

Coach Nathan Brown will be hoping all four get through the game unscathed and will finalise his 17-man team an hour prior to kick-off.

Newcastle have won seven of their past nine games and can't afford to drop their guard against a team they're expected to beat.

The Bulldogs were always a longshot to make the finals when the season kicked off but Dean Pay would've expected to have more than four wins after 16 rounds.

Match: Knights v Bulldogs

Round 17 -

Full Time
Knights

Home Team

Knights

Scored 14 points
Bulldogs

Away Team

Bulldogs

Scored 20 points

Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network
  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS

The Rundown

Team news

Knights: Nathan Brown included his Origin forwards on an extended reserves list on Tuesday and he brought Daniel Saifiti and Tim Glasby into the starting 17 an hour before game time. James Gavet and Josh King dropped back to the bench. The club's other Origin reps David Klemmer and Mitchell Pearce are also backing up. Lachlan Fitzgibbon is out with an elbow injury and been replaced by Sione Mata'utia, with Kurt Mann moving to centre.

Bulldogs: Kieran Foran's hamstring injury paves the way for Brandon Wakeham to move into the starting side in just his second NRL game. Renouf Toomaga comes onto the bench for his first game of 2019 and Jeremy Marshall-King also grabs a spot on the bench in his return from a knee injury. Fa'amanu Brown and Danny Fualalo were omitted 24 hours before kick-off and Ofahiki Ogden and Kerrod Holland made way an hour before the match.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Knights is number 1 Connor Watson
    Fullback for Bulldogs is number 1 Dallin Watene-Zelezniak
  • Winger for Knights is number 2 Hymel Hunt
    Winger for Bulldogs is number 2 Nick Meaney
  • Centre for Knights is number 3 Kurt Mann
    Centre for Bulldogs is number 3 Marcelo Montoya
  • Centre for Knights is number 4 Jesse Ramien
    Centre for Bulldogs is number 4 Will Hopoate
  • Winger for Knights is number 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall
    Winger for Bulldogs is number 5 Reimis Smith
  • Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Mason Lino
    Five-Eighth for Bulldogs is number 6 Brandon Wakeham
  • Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell Pearce
    Halfback for Bulldogs is number 7 Jack Cogger

Forwards

  • Prop for Knights is number 20 Daniel Saifiti
    Prop for Bulldogs is number 8 Aiden Tolman
  • Hooker for Knights is number 9 Danny Levi
    Hooker for Bulldogs is number 9 Michael Lichaa
  • Prop for Knights is number 21 Tim Glasby
    Prop for Bulldogs is number 10 Dylan Napa
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Jamie Buhrer
    2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 11 Josh Jackson
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Sione Mata'utia
    2nd Row for Bulldogs is number 12 Corey Harawira-Naera
  • Lock for Knights is number 13 Herman Ese'ese
    Lock for Bulldogs is number 13 Chris Smith

Interchange

  • Interchange for Knights is number 8 James Gavet
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 14 Adam Elliott
  • Interchange for Knights is number 10 Josh King
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 15 Renouf Toomaga
  • Interchange for Knights is number 18 Tautau Moga
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 17 Sauaso Sue
  • Interchange for Knights is number 19 David Klemmer
    Interchange for Bulldogs is number 19 Jeremy Marshall-King

Key match-up

Will Hopoate had a big game against the Sharks last time out, bagging a try and four tackle breaks and will look to continue his form against the Knights. Kurt Mann has been seamlessly shifting positions for the Knights over the past few weeks and will look maintain his fine form against the Bulldogs.

 

For the Knights to win

The have to be ready to weather the Dogs' early onslaught and avoid straying from the game plan. The Knights need to make sure they are switched on defensively and look for attacking space on the edges through their backrowers and centres.

For the Bulldogs to win

It's been a tough campaign for the Doggies without much reward. But every now and then they turn up and cause an upset like they did in round 15 against the Sharks and there's no reason why they can't play with the same purpose and attention to detail against the Knights. They need a strong effort from the forwards.

Brett Kimmorley says

Newcastle again showed that they are playing a tough brand of football, they just lacked the quality talent needed to get the win in the end. If the Blues win Origin, Mitchell Pearce will jump out of that with his confidence sky-high. Canterbury played reasonably well against the Sharks. The Knights won’t have it all their own way here. Knights by 6

Stat Attack

Mitchell Pearce leads the NRL in line break assists with 13, with Damien Cook (12) second and Clint Gutherson (11) third. The Bulldogs boast an average 80% completion rate - equal first with the Storm. The Knights have conceded the most penalties (124) in the competition.

And another thing ...

Lachlan Fitzgibbon appeared to suffer a serious arm injury in the early minutes of Newcastle's clash with the Warriors last week. He managed to finish the game but will be monitored during the week and is no certainty to take on the Dogs. The Knights hope to have Kalyn Ponga back for their round 18 road clash with the Roosters, while Mitch Barnett (suspension) is also due back in round 18.