Round 19: Knights v Broncos preview - 2017 Round 19
Heartbreaker Knights look for solace against familiar foe.
Newcastle fans sure know heartbreak don't they? Last week's last minute loss to Canterbury was just the latest in what has been a difficult season for the Novacastrions. Just weeks earlier they threw away an 18-point lead against St George Illawarra and on Sunday led by 10 with just 8 minutes only to be run down.
However these are all learning experiences for this incredibly young side. They are putting in 100% every week and playing for each other which is positive to see. The support that young Brock Lamb has received from Knights fans after his caning on social media is sure to benefit the 20-year-old. Missing a kick like that after the position he was put in wouldn't have been easy and he needs people around him to encourage him. Hopefully he gets a big ovation on Sunday and can repay the faith the fans have given him.
The big question surrounding this Knights side is can it bring itself up for this game after the massive low it would have felt after last week's loss?
Brisbane will see this fixture as the perfect opportunity to jump back on the horse (or in this case Bronco...) after its last start thumping at the hands of Melbourne. The Broncs' were shell-shocked into submission by the competition front runners who didn't miss a beat that night in Brisbane. However despite that defeat, the Broncos have been performing quite well on the field. It has won 7 of the last 10 matches including away wins against Penrith and Canberra. Sitting just outside the top 4, it has a lot to play form coming into the back end of the season. Pundits will tell you it is very hard to win the Premiership from outside the top 4 so Wayne Bennett's men will be doing all they can to break into one of those positions.
Knights fans will have bad memories of the last time they faced the Broncos as it copped a half-century on the back of a Anthony Milford masterclass (three tries). It gets worse for the Novacastrians though. Brisbane have won the last five encounters including the last two matches at McDonald Jones Stadium (31-18 and 32-6) and the Knights have won just one of the last 10 matches. The Broncos need seven tries to have scored 100 tries at the ground.
Brisbane have the second best record in Newcastle, only behind the Dragons with 15 wins in 25 trips dating back to 1988.
Who to watch: It couldn't be anyone else could it? Brock Lamb is my player to watch as I am keen to see how he bounces back from last week's disappointment. The youngster has a good head on his shoulders and has shown great maturity in his stay in first grade thus far. Keep a close eye on his general kicking in this match as no doubt he got some pointers from the Knights coaching staff after the game. One of the best aspects of his game is his defence. He defends out wide (two in from the wing) and often cuts down the bigger men with textbook tackles. He has a wonderful technique and can be counted on and trusted by is team mates. Knights fans will be hoping his combination with Trent Hodkinson can grow and flourish over the course of the season.
Brisbane's Jordan Kahu has big boots to fill for the next couple of game by replacing the injured Darius Boyd. Boyd is one of the premier fullbacks in the game and his loss has certainly affected the Broncos. However they have a capable replacement in Kahu who has shown his versatility by filling in at wing and centre in the past. After getting past a horror injury run he has been a mainstay and a vital cog for the Broncs over the past few years. Look for his safety in the air with defusing bombs and his link up play out the back with the sweeping plays that Bennett likes to employ...
My tip: You get the feeling that the Knights played their big game last week. The effort and energy that would have taken out of them after the loss makes me think they won't be able to get up for this clash. Brisbane are looking to find some form and with the weapons at their disposal should have too much fire power for the home side. Think this one will be won in the first 15-20 minutes. Broncos by 16.