The Knights haven't quite hit rock bottom with last week's road loss to the Titans but they're getting awfully close.
Their season-opening home win over the Sharks is a distant memory and a loss to the Eels would effectively bury their finals hopes after just seven rounds.
Nathan Brown knows the knives are out and the coach is under massive pressure to avoid a sixth straight loss.
Parra celebrated last week's opening of their brand new stadium with a 51-6 rout of the Tigers and will be strengthened by the return of Blake Ferguson (ribs) after he was a game-day withdrawal in round six.
Match: Knights v Eels
Round 7 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
- Nine Network
- LIVE PASS
Knights: In a change made an hour before kick-off, Daniel Saifiti (No.16) will start at prop with James Gavet moving back to the bench. After Jamie Buhrer and Mason Lino were the last two dropped from the squad, Gavet will be joined by Herman Ese'ese, Josh King and Sione Mata'utia on the interchange bench.
Eels: Daniel Alvaro has been ruled out after suffering a concussion in the opening minutes of last week's win over the Tigers. Peni Terepo is the new starting prop, while Manu Ma'u has been promoted to the bench. Josh Hoffman and George Jennings were the last two omitted an hour before kick-off. Kane Evans was trimmed from the reserves on Saturday. Winger Blake Ferguson will return after missing the christening of Bankwest Stadium with a rib injury.
Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn PongaFullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
Winger for Knights is number 2 Edrick LeeWinger for Eels is number 2 Maika Sivo
Centre for Knights is number 3 Hymel HuntCentre for Eels is number 3 Michael Jennings
Centre for Knights is number 4 Jesse RamienCentre for Eels is number 4 Brad Takairangi
Winger for Knights is number 5 Shaun Kenny-DowallWinger for Eels is number 5 Blake Ferguson
Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Connor WatsonFive-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Jaeman Salmon
Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell PearceHalfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses
Prop for Knights is number 8 David KlemmerProp for Eels is number 14 Peni Terepo
Hooker for Knights is number 9 Danny LeviHooker for Eels is number 9 Reed Mahoney
Prop for Knights is number 16 Daniel SaifitiProp for Eels is number 10 Junior Paulo
2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane
2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Mitchell Barnett2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Marata Niukore
Lock for Knights is number 13 Tim GlasbyLock for Eels is number 13 Tepai Moeroa
Interchange for Knights is number 10 James GavetInterchange for Eels is number 15 Tim Mannah
Interchange for Knights is number 15 Herman Ese'eseInterchange for Eels is number 16 Oregon Kaufusi
Interchange for Knights is number 17 Josh KingInterchange for Eels is number 17 Ray Stone
Interchange for Knights is number 20 Sione Mata'utiaInterchange for Eels is number 18 Manu Ma'u
The battle of the Mitchells - Pearce and Moses - will have a big bearing on the final score. Newcastle are supposed to make the top eight this year but they're a long way from that happening. Pearce has been under fire from Knights fans and needs to prove he's still among the game's upper echelon of halfbacks.
For the Knights to win
Is age catching up with Pearce? Is Ponga suffering from a form of second-year syndrome? Has Brown lost the players' respect? Just some of the many questions being tossed around about the slumping Knights. It's no secret they need to get their defence and attack sorted, but it's mostly all about pride this week.
For the Eels to win
First and foremost, the Eels better be ready for an early barrage from the struggling Knights. They have to weather the expected onslaught and patiently stick to Brad Arthur's game plan because it might not be as easy as their Easter Monday romp against the Tigers. Parra's forwards need to get over the top of the inconsistent but capable Newcastle pack.
Brett Kimmorley says
Newcastle had all the expectations on them to make the top eight. I read on the weekend they were trying to say they made too many mistakes – 12 mistakes in a game of football is not too high. It comes down to attitude and roster. They're losing because they’re not wanting to have a dig and not playing tough enough. As for the Eels, they will be an enormous high after last week. Mitchell Moses responded well to the challenge from his coach a few weeks back. Eels by 12
If Mitch Barnett isn't called on to kick again for the Knights this season he can skite about his perfect 100% success rate. With Ponga spraying two shots in the 38-14 thrashing from the Titans, Barnett converted Newcastle's third try from right in front. Pearce and Eels fullback Clint Gutherson are the NRL's equal leaders in line break assists with six apiece.
And another thing ...
Mitch Moses had kicked 15 goals in a row before last week's thrashing of the Tigers. He was on target with his first seven shots but the streak stopped at 22 straight. Moses etched himself into the history books by becoming the first player to score a try and kick both a goal and field goal at Bankwest Stadium.