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 -

Full Time
Knights

Home Team

Knights

Scored 28 points
Eels

Away Team

Eels

Scored 14 points

Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network
  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS

The Rundown

Team news

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.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
    Fullback for Eels is number 1 Clinton Gutherson
  • Winger for Knights is number 2 Edrick Lee
    Winger for Eels is number 2 Maika Sivo
  • Centre for Knights is number 3 Hymel Hunt
    Centre for Eels is number 3 Michael Jennings
  • Centre for Knights is number 4 Jesse Ramien
    Centre for Eels is number 4 Brad Takairangi
  • Winger for Knights is number 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall
    Winger for Eels is number 5 Blake Ferguson
  • Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Connor Watson
    Five-Eighth for Eels is number 6 Jaeman Salmon
  • Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell Pearce
    Halfback for Eels is number 7 Mitchell Moses

Forwards

  • Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
    Prop for Eels is number 14 Peni Terepo
  • Hooker for Knights is number 9 Danny Levi
    Hooker for Eels is number 9 Reed Mahoney
  • Prop for Knights is number 16 Daniel Saifiti
    Prop for Eels is number 10 Junior Paulo
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
    2nd Row for Eels is number 11 Shaun Lane
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Mitchell Barnett
    2nd Row for Eels is number 12 Marata Niukore
  • Lock for Knights is number 13 Tim Glasby
    Lock for Eels is number 13 Tepai Moeroa

Interchange

  • Interchange for Knights is number 10 James Gavet
    Interchange for Eels is number 15 Tim Mannah
  • Interchange for Knights is number 15 Herman Ese'ese
    Interchange for Eels is number 16 Oregon Kaufusi
  • Interchange for Knights is number 17 Josh King
    Interchange for Eels is number 17 Ray Stone
  • Interchange for Knights is number 20 Sione Mata'utia
    Interchange for Eels is number 18 Manu Ma'u

Key match-up

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

Stat Attack

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.