NRL Preview – Sharks v Knights
Where will the Sharks finish on the NRL ladder and who will they play in week one of the finals?
Those questions and more are set to be answered as the weekend progresses.
First things first however and the Sharks must play the Knights on Sunday, a game which may not have significant finals implications but a clash which shapes as an important game nonetheless.
The Sharks recent performances have been somewhat inconsistent at best, a win in Townsville was followed by a narrow loss at Southern Cross Group Stadium to the Roosters, with the Sharks looking to take winning form and momentum into the finals the following week.
“We want to be taking momentum into the finals but we need to get a few things right. We want to take some confidence into week one,” Sharks forward Jeremy Latimore said earlier this week.
“It’s come to the point of the year where you need to start nailing things. The Melbourne Storm have been doing that since round one, which is why they are the benchmark,” he added.
Latimore’s teammate Luke Lewis, one player who could certainly hold his head high after a standout effort in the game against the Roosters, was quick to agree.
“We need to get out there and we need to play well, build a little bit of belief,” Lewis said in regards to the Newcastle game.
“This week is another challenge and we’ll see where we end up for week one of the finals.”
On old boys day at McDonald Jones Stadium, an occasion at which former Knights will celebrate the famous 1997 triumph, the Knights will definitely present a challenge as predicted by Lewis.
It took a field goal to decide the result the last time around, the Sharks escaping with a 19-18 victory back in round five, a score line that emphasises the fact that despite sitting on the bottom of the NRL ladder, the Knights can be a dangerous proposition on their day.
The Knights have won just five games in 2017, their last victory coming three weeks ago against another of the finals contenders in the Parramatta Eels in what was a win to indicate on their day the young Newcastle side is extremely capable.
The Sharks also have recent form on their side, having won the last five matches contested between the two clubs.
For this their last game of 2017 Newcastle are set to field a team with a handful of seasoned campaigners, mixed in with the next generation of young Knights, while a long injury list makes their task of scoring a win against the Sharks somewhat more difficult.
Former Shark Anthony Tupou is sidelined, along with young guns Brock Lamb, Daniel Saifiti and team captain Sione Mata’utia.
As for the Sharks, Jack Bird has again been omitted from the 21-man squad but is close to a return and will be fit to play in week one of the finals next weekend. Bird has been out since injuring his shoulder in round 22.
Coach Shane Flanagan has trimmed his team down from the original 21-named to 19 ahead of the match tomorrow.
The Sharks v Knights match is scheduled to get underway at 2.00pm at McDonald Jones Stadium.
NRL TEAM LIST – Round 26
Sharks v Knights
Sunday, September 3
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off – 2.00pm
1 - Valentine Holmes
2 - Sosaia Feki
3 - Kurt Capewell
4 - Ricky Leutele
5 - Gerard Beale
6 – James Maloney
7 - Chad Townsend
8 - Andrew Fifita
9 - Jayden Brailey
10 - Matt Prior
11 - Luke Lewis
12 - Wade Graham
13 - Paul Gallen
14 - Jayson Bukuya
15 - Chris Heighington
16 - Jeremy Latimore
17 - James Segeyaro
18 - Joseph Paulo
20 – Jesse Ramien
Tale of the tape – Sharks v Knights
Head to Head
Sharks 21 wins
At McDonald Jones Stadium
Sharks 7 wins
Past eight matches
Sharks 5 wins
Knights 3 wins
Sharks 62 Knights 0, Hunter Stadium 2016
Knights 52 Sharks 8, Energy Australia Stadium, 2002