Round 5: Knights v Sea Eagles preview
Home hasn't been where the heart is for Newcastle thus far in 2019. The Novocastrians have played a quarter of their home games and lost two - their only victory 14-8 against the Sharks - now they welcome a resurgent Sea Eagles side for the final game of Super Saturday.
The Sea Eagles on the other hand have turned the corner. Two huge victories against the Warriors and Rabbitohs have them sat in the top eight, albeit with a host of other sides. The injury of Tom Trbojevic is a set back after he ignited their attack but in Daly Cherry-Evans, Martin Taupau and Jake Trbojevic, there is enough to see them over the line against a stagnant Knights side.
A key to their revival has been their defence as well. They rank the second-best in missed tackles and showed their steel in their single point success against South Sydney despite a 58% completion rate and 20 errors, to defend their errors. If they can repeat the dose against Newcastle, they can make it three victories in a row.
Newcastle need to find the right note, the attack hasn't surpassed 20 points in any game in the first month, and the halves pairing hasn't clicked. Kalyn Ponga back at fullback is a positive - his two try-assists was the majority of the Knights attack - and alongside Mitch Pearce and Mason Lino, they need to find a regular route to the stripe to move themselves from the bottom rung of the ladder.
It is much needed though, for all the bluster in pre-season, the Knights look the same side as 2018. Against sides that they will compete with for the top eight, their experience needs to take the helm and give their attacking weapons - Edrick Lee and Jesse Ramien - more chances to increase their time with the ball and add to their highlight reel.
Who to watch: It's another chance for Brendan Elliot in the #1 jumper for the Sea Eagles. Tom Trbojevic is out for a lengthy period of time, so the 25-year-old can stake his claim for the spot. Trbojevic showed in his two performances that the custodian is a major part of the Sea Eagles attacking structure, and Elliot has to chime in enough to help Daly Cherry-Evans to create attacking opportunities against the Knights defence.
The end of last week's game might end up as a recurring nightmare for Mitchell Pearce. The veteran half missed a series of field goals before his miscued bomb helped the Dragons onto their winner. Now Kalyn Ponga has moved back to fullback, pressure is on Pearce to steer the side around, cutting down the time for the Sea Eagles pack and getting the Knights in better field position than last week where they struggled.
The favourite: The Sea Eagles, even without Tom Trbojevic, head into this game as the favourite.