Match Preview: Raiders v Knights
The Newcastle Knights may be sitting in last place on the ladder with just one win this year, but that counts for nothing on Sunday when the Raiders travel up to the Hunter aiming to get one over their bogey side.
Twice in 2016 the valiant Knights defied the odds to take the Raiders to golden point, with one match ending in a draw and the Raiders just escaping on the other occasion through a freakish try.
Both teams will come into the match relatively fresh after a week off due to the representative round, with only five Raiders playing last weekend compared to eight Knights.
The Raiders will be missing influential forward Josh Papalii for the match, with Sia Soliola moving into the backrow to cover for him and Dunamis Lui joining the interchange.
Trent Hodkinson is named as 18th man for the Knights and looms as a potential late inclusion for Jaelen Feeney.
After two tight losses to the Sea Eagles and Bulldogs, the Raiders desperately need to return to the winner’s circle, and an emphatic victory over the Knights will do just the trick.
Winning the match will require a much-improved performance from the Raiders massive forward pack, which was out-muscled up the middle by the Bulldogs. If the Raiders can gain an early upper-hand over the Knights youthful forward pack, it will go a long way to shaping the outcome of the match.
The Raiders and Knights have already met once this year in a trial match at Seiffert Oval. The visitors crushed an under-strength Raiders outfit by 44 points. While only a trial match, the result will give the Knights an extra shot of confidence heading into Sunday’s game.
Raiders fan were treated to an enthralling encounter at GIO Stadium last time the two sides came together in round 17, 2016. Trailing by 22 points early on, Blake Austin scored just before half-time to put the Raiders on the board.
Eventually finding their rhythm, the Green Machine clawed their way back and sent the match into golden point. In the most unlikely of circumstances, Jordan Rapana collected a wayward field goal attempt by Austin to secure the two-points in a wild finish.