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Newcastle Knights vs Melbourne Storm: Lineups, Preview & Prediction

McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle, Saturday 19th August, 3pm AEST.


Overview

If I had’ve suggested a few weeks ago that the Knights had a chance of beating Melbourne storm in their round 24 meeting you’d have been questioning my sanity as much as my logic.

But coming into the game off the back of three wins, Newcastle could have enough to surprise a storm side that has effectively wrapped up the Minor Premiership.

Having beaten the Dragons at home on a controversial afternoon, the Knights backed it up at the same venue when they sent a disappointing and mediocre Warriors side packing. They saved the most impressive of the three for last week when they came down to the ANZ Stadium and raised serious questions about the title credentials of Parramatta with a 29-10 win. 

There’s a genuine excitement around the Knights, while the Storm are in a position where they can opt to rest players and temporarily take their foot off the gas. Melbourne won’t throw this game away but this could be a lot closer than the NRL ladder would suggest.

Recent Meetings

2017 – Rd 13 Melbourne 40 def. Newcastle 12 at AAMI Park

2016 – Rd 19 Melbourne 20 def. Newcastle 16 at McDonald Jones Stadium

2016 – Rd 5 Melbourne 18 def. Newcastle 14 at AAMI Park

2015 – Rd 24 Newcastle 20 def. Melbourne 6 at AAMI Park

2014 – Rd 22 Newcastle 32 def. Melbourne 30 at McDonald Jones Stadium

The Knights have won 15 of their 37 meetings with the Storm. Melbourne have had the better of Newcastle in the last three clashes, including a comprehensive 40-12 win at the AAMI Park earlier this season.

The Storm also have a good recent record at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium, winning three of the last five. They will be backing themselves to continue that record, keep building momentum ahead of the finals and mathematically seal the Minor Premiership with victory.

Selected Teams

NEWCASTLE MELBOURNE
Dane Gagai11Billy Slater
Ken Sio22Suliasi Vunivalu
Joe Wardle33Will Chambers
Peter Mata’utia44Curtis Scott
Shaun Kenny-Dowall55Josh Addo-Carr
Brock Lamb66Cameron Munster
Trent Hodkinson77Cooper Cronk
Daniel Saifiti88Jesse Bromwich
Jamie Buhrer99Cameron Smith
Josh King1010Jordan McLean
Sione Mata’utia1111Felise Kaufusi
Lachlan Fitzgibbon1212Joe Stimson
Mitchell Barnett1313Dale Finucane
 INTERCHANGE 
Danny Levi1414Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Luke Yates1515Jahrome Hughes
Sam Stone1616Kenneth Bromwich
Jacob Saifiti1717Slade Griffin
 RESERVES 
Jack Cogger1818Tohu Harris
Mickey Paea1919Brodie Croft
Brendan Elliot2020Robbie Rochow
Chanel Mata’utia2121Nate Myles

The Facts That Matter

Newcastle Knights

The Knights have every reason to think they can turn up, put on a good show and go toe-to-toe with the best team in the league on recent form. After the last three weeks, it is unsurprising that they have made no changes to the line-up. Nathan Brown has added Mickey Paea, Brendan Elliot and Chanel Mata’utia to the 21-man squad as reserves but is more than likely to stick with the same 17-man squad.

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Five-eighth Brock Lamb has been a key component in the Knights recent upturn, with the dynamic young pivot bouncing back marvelously from missing a potentially match-tying penalty at the Belmore Oval a few weeks ago. Since that dark day, the youngster has risen to the challenge and has been a more composed, controlling influence on the side and looks content alongside Trent Hodkinson in the halves.

Ken Sio will want to back up his two-try effort from last week and add to his five tries across the whole of 2017. 

Dane Gagai’s shift to fullback has also been a huge bonus, with the Queensland Origin star providing a Greg Inglis-like kick-return game and plenty of attacking threat. The young Knights forwards like Daniel Saifiti, Sione Mata’utia and Lachlan Fitzgibbon have led the charge over the last few weeks and have been big influences on the middle of the ruck.

Melbourne Storm

How do you pick apart a team like Melbourne Storm?

The Storm have been the benchmark of the competition all season and they show no signs of slowing down as they head towards another Minor Premiership and yet another finals campaign. While they could be weighed down by the expectation, they have rarely taken their eye off the immediate challenge, meaning the Knights will be unlikely to spring a surprise this.

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Cameron Smith continues to look like an ageless gem, controlling the attacking structure of the Storm every week while continuing his high tackle numbers. Cooper Cronk looks determined to end his time at the club with another Premiership success.

The return of Cameron Munster alongside Cronk adds a level of quality in their build-up play and ensures the Storm will back themselves to score plenty of points this time around, much like they did against Newcastle earlier in the year.

There is no chance of the Storm turning up at the McDonald Jones Stadium with any level of complacency, so big guys like Jesse Bromwich and Dale Finucane will have the same starch and impact they have had each and every week.

Prediction

It’s very hard to look past the Storm in this one. It’s easy to buy into the feel good factor at the Knights and they should keep this relatively close. But the Storm are title favourites for a reason and it’s hard to see Craig Bellamy’s side losing to anyone at the moment.. Melbourne by 6-8 points.

Who do you think wins this Saturday afternoon classic, the Knights or the Storm? Let us know in the comments below.

  1. Poll: Who do you think wins this Saturday afternoon classic, the Knights or the Storm?

    1. Newcastle Knights
    2. Melbourne Storm
    38 votes
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Daniel Lang

Rugby League & Cricket editor at RealSport.

Daniel is a passionate advocate for the game of rugby league and the development of the sport across the world and, as such, writes with a zeal and determination to spread the gospel of the game.

A huge fan of cricket, football, NFL, Tennis and Supercar racing in Australia, Daniel can quickly find himself a casual fan of just about any sport after putting his mind to watching it.

Daniel is also one-half of the hugely successful podcast 'Panthers Weekly with Strawbs & Teach' where he talks all things Panthers Weekly while he also hosts the current affairs show 'the Strawbs Show' and the 'Summer of Cricket with Strawbs & Shnuu' as well as appearing on the Sydney FC covering 'Nothing But Blue Skies' podcast occasionally.

Newcastle Knights vs Melbourne Storm: Lineups, Preview & Prediction

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