Raiders v Knights preview

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Canberra Raiders v Newcastle Knights Sunday 4:05pm at Campbelltown Stadium

Raiders and Knights to do battle in early season high-table clash. 

Sunday afternoon sees early season success stories Canberra and Newcastle go head-to-head at Campbelltown Stadium in what shapes to be an entertaining clash. The Raiders are coming off an impressive 22-6 defeat of the Melbourne Storm, whilst the Knights are coming off of an outstanding effort last weekend. The Novocastrians were faced with injuries to key players Mitchell Pearce and Connor Watson early in the match, but still managed a 14-all draw against Penrith. This should be an entertaining game with a lot of free-flowing footy.

The Raiders look like they haven't missed a beat since their 2019 campaign which saw them progress all the way to the Grand Final. They are 3-0 to start the season and managed to comfortably take down competition heavyweights Melbourne Storm in their last game. The only change to their team is that Bailey Simonsson comes into the side to start on the wing, pushing Jordan Rapana back to the bench.

The Knights did well to manage a draw in their last game considering the injuries that they sustained early in the game and the fact that they had to come from 14 points down to level the scores. Kalyn Ponga returns to the side this week at fullback following a suspension which didn't allow him to play against the Panthers last weekend. Bradman Best maintains his spot in the centres after a superb performance last weekend which saw him score 2 tries. Mitchell Pearce has been named at halfback despite suffering a nasty head injury early in the Penrith game. Former Bronco Andrew McCullough will make his Knights debut and his been named to start at hooker for this game, with Watson not named due to the ankle injury he sustained against Penrith. Impressive rookie Tex Hoy will maintain his spot in the first-grade side this weekend via the bench, which pushes Chris Randall out of the 17. 

Both of these sides are without a loss to start this season. Canberra have won all 3 of their matches, whereas Newcastle have won 2 and drawn 1. Canberra have looked in perhaps better form than what they did in 2019, with an attack equally as solid as their defence. The Knights have too been impressive under new head coach Adam O'Brien to start the season, but their middle forwards will have to match the Canberra pack and not let them gain too much ascendency if they are to win the game. If the Knights can't take it to the Canberra pack, the game could end up getting away from them towards the end. 

Last meeting: Round 3 2019 - Raiders 17 Knights 10

Who to watch: Canberra half George Williams was all over the park in the Raiders' last outing, making his presence felt in both attack and defence. Williams has been impressive in all three of his NRL outings to this point and will likely get better as the season goes on. Look for him to capitalise if the intimidating Raiders forward pack can get the better of the Knights.

Many will be looking forward to seeing Kalyn Ponga back in action after he served a suspension in the Knights' Round 3 clash against the Panthers. After over 2 months without playing any footy, Ponga will be itching to get onto the field. With the new 6 again rule, the fullback could prove to be very dangerous sniffing around the ruck with his speed and trademark footwork.

The favourite: The Raiders are favourites to take out this clash.

My tip: The Knights put on a great show of resilience and team resolve against the Panthers to pull back a draw last round. However, the Raiders have been far more convincing thus far in the competition and have identified themselves as a real contender. Raiders by 16.

1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Bailey Simonsson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Curtis Scott 5. Nick Cotric 6. Jack Wighton 7. George Williams 8. Josh Papali'i 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. Joseph Tapine 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Corey Horsburgh 14. Siliva Havili 15. Emre Guler 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Jordan Rapana

1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bradman Best 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Kurt Mann 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Aidan Guerra 12. Sione Mata'utia 13. Herman Ese'ese 14. Tex Hoy 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Tim Glasby 17. Brodie Jones

Referees: Ashley Klein; Sideline Officials: Dave Munro, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Beau Scott;

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