With both teams coming off three consecutive losses, it's desperate times for the Knights and Wests Tigers as they fight to play finals football.

On track for a top-four berth a few weeks ago, Newcastle are now wobbling on the edge of the eight after a humiliating 48-10 thrashing from the Roosters last week in which they conceded seven second half-tries.

Tigers coach Michael Maguire demanded his players "harden up" following a 20-12 loss to Canberra that leaves them in 12th spot, two points adrift of the eighth-placed Knights.

With both clubs aiming to end long play-off droughts, snaring the two competition points at the specially re-branded Mark Hughes Foundation Stadium is imperative.

Match: Knights v Wests Tigers

Round 19 -

Full Time
Knights

Home Team

Knights

Scored 26 points
Wests Tigers

Away Team

Wests Tigers

Scored 28 points

Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle

Match broadcasters:

  • Foxtel
  • LIVE PASS
  • KAYO

The Rundown

Team news

Knights: Nathan Brown has stuck with the same 17 and resisted the temptation to make any late changes. Connor Watson has remained on the bench after some thought he might start at hooker in place of Danny Levi. Josh King and Aidan Guerra dropped out of the extended squad on Thursday. Jacob Saifiti and Mason Lino were omitted an hour before kick-off. Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga has scored 34 points in his past two games at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Wests Tigers: A change on Thursday with Jacob Liddle replaced on the bench by Matt Eisenhuth as Michael Maguire opts for four forwards on the bench. Josh Reynolds was the other player omitted 24 hours before kick-off. Tommy Talau and Chris McQueen were removed an hour beforehand. Wests Tigers have won three of their past four games against the Knights.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
    Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Corey Thompson
  • Winger for Knights is number 2 Hymel Hunt
    Winger for Wests Tigers is number 2 Paul Momirovski
  • Centre for Knights is number 3 Tautau Moga
    Centre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Moses Mbye
  • Centre for Knights is number 4 Jesse Ramien
    Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Esan Marsters
  • Winger for Knights is number 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall
    Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 David Nofoaluma
  • Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Kurt Mann
    Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Benji Marshall
  • Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell Pearce
    Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Luke Brooks

Forwards

  • Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
    Prop for Wests Tigers is number 8 Josh Aloiai
  • Hooker for Knights is number 9 Danny Levi
    Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Robbie Farah
  • Prop for Knights is number 10 Daniel Saifiti
    Prop for Wests Tigers is number 10 Oliver Clark
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Mitchell Barnett
    2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Luke Garner
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Sione Mata'utia
    2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 12 Michael Chee-Kam
  • Lock for Knights is number 13 Tim Glasby
    Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Ryan Matterson

Interchange

  • Interchange for Knights is number 14 Connor Watson
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Thomas Mikaele
  • Interchange for Knights is number 15 James Gavet
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 16 Alex Twal
  • Interchange for Knights is number 16 Herman Ese'ese
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Chris Lawrence
  • Interchange for Knights is number 17 Jamie Buhrer
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 18 Matthew Eisenhuth

Key match-up

Halfbacks Mitchell Pearce and Luke Brooks will have a huge say in the outcome, but it's up to the forwards to lay platforms for the generals to operate. Inspirational Knights prop David Klemmer will be pumped to spearhead his side at home. Much-improved Tiger Alex Twal must mirror his opposite number's intensity.

For the Knights to win

Dominate the middle. Boasting three Origin representatives in their starting pack, stamping their authority in the middle third is Newcastle's key to victory. If they overpower the unheralded Tigers big men, Pearce and dynamic fullback Kalyn Ponga will relish the extra time and space to create.

For the Tigers to win

Keep it simple. The Tigers made it incredibly tough on themselves last weekend by completing their sets at just 67 per cent, producing 14 errors. Maguire's troops need to start sustaining pressure or an overdue return to the finals is likely to be delayed at least another season.

Brett Kimmorley says

A massive night for the Mark Hughes Foundation. I’m looking forward to seeing Kalyn Ponga, he’s had one game back and the calf looked fine. The cobwebs are out for him. Maybe there will be a response from the Tigers after their coach was brutal in his assessment of how weak they were. Expect a response from the Tigers but Newcastle probably have a few more points in them. Knights by 6

Stat Attack

The two No.7s aren't afraid to take a whack before delivering to their supports. Brooks (140) and Pearce (121) are ranked first and second in the competition for line engagements.

And another thing ...

Whoever triumphs in this fixture will gain the edge in the all-time head-to-head battle between the clubs. As it stands, the Wests Tigers and Knights have 13 wins apiece with two draws in 28 matches.