The Newcastle Knights face a nervy couple of days leading into their Friday night clash with the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The red and blue have four stars involved in the State of Origin decider this week, so coach Nathan Brown can only hope they come through unscathed.
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That said, the Knights might not need their top brass against a Canterbury side that has managed only four wins in 16 weeks of footy.
While Newcastle are on track for the finals, the Dogs are dead last and barreling towards the wooden spoon.
Newcastle Knights Round 17 team news
Origin forwards Tim Glasby, David Klemmer and Daniel Saifiti are named in the reserves, but all are expected to start if they survive Wednesday’s blockbuster in Sydney. NSW playmaker Mitchell Pearce is picked in the first 13, while Connor Watson continues at fullback in place of the injured Kalyn Ponga. Lachlan Fitzgibbon is out with an elbow problem, which sees Sione Mata’utia start on the second row and Kurt Mann move to the centres.
Out: Lachlan Fitzgibbon (elbow)
In: Mitchell Pearce
Canterbury Bulldogs Round 17 team news
Kieran Foran has busted his hamstring, which gives Brandon Wakeham a chance at five-eighth in his second NRL game. Renouf Toomaga fills out the bench in his first taste of the top division for the year.
Out: Kieran Foran (hamstring)
In: Renouf Toomaga
Knights vs Bulldogs tryscorer betting tips
Hymel Hunt – This guy has been prolific from the centres this year, but can he impact the scoreboard from the wing? Hunt has seven tries for the season and should add to that tally against the bottom side.
Will Hopoate – There is very little tryscoring form in the Canterbury squad, but Hopoate has found the line in each of his last two starts for the Dogs and looks the best bet among a very ordinary bunch.
Newcastle vs Canterbury NRL stats and trends
- The Knights dropped to sixth on the NRL ladder with their loss to NZ Warriors
- Newcastle have conceded 124 penalties – more than any other team this year
- The Dogs’ win over Cronulla two weeks ago was their first since round 10
- Canterbury’s 80% completion rate is equal-best alongside Melbourne
Knights vs Bulldogs NRL Round 17 predictions
Newcastle were always going to struggle without Ponga and their Origin stars, so last week’s defeat to the Warriors is nothing much to worry about. The Knights should be fine if they get even a couple of their big names back on Friday. The Dogs stunned Cronulla last time out, but it is hard to see that form sticking.
Newcastle Knights by 13+ points – $2.68 at Sportsbet
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