Knights v Bulldogs preview

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Newcastle Knights v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs Sunday 2:00pm at McDonald Jones Stadium

The Knights aim to hold onto fourth spot on the ladder as they take on the cellar dweller Bulldogs.

It'll be the hosts third match at their home ground this season, a venue in which the Newcastle Knights have failed to beat the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs since 2013 when the likes of Darius Boyd, Kurt Gidley and Jarrod Mullen donned the blue and red stripes.

The home side have now had alternating results since the resumption of the competition having failed to string together back to back wins since the opening two rounds of the season. A win against the Bulldogs would give them seven wins from 11 matches this season putting the Knights in a great position to qualify for the finals for the first time since 2013.

Despite knocking off the South Sydney Rabbitohs on Saturday, the Knights avoided a late scare conceding three tries in the space of seven minutes as they invited the Rabbitohs back into the contest. This isn't the first time that the Knights have switched off during games, having conceded 26 points in the opening half to the struggling North Queensland Cowboys in Round 7. This is obviously something that the Knights need to improve on if they are to compete for the main prize at the end of the season.

The Knights remain unchanged from last week's victory over the Rabbitohs.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will be hurting after their loss to the St. George Illawarra Dragons courtesy of a last minute Corey Norman try.

The Bulldogs even led by 12 points with 15 minutes remaining, that was until they self-capitulated and conceded three tries in the closing 15 minutes. It was a tough loss for the Bulldogs and their fans to take having only won just the one game this season which also happened to come against the Dragons.

Despite their poor results this season, the Bulldogs do have the wood over the Knights in recent times having won seven of their past eight matches against the team from the Hunter.

In good news for the Bulldogs fans, Kieran Foran has been named to start this week after missing the second half on the weekend with an apparent toe injury. As always, he'll be vital if the Bulldogs are to cause an upset over the Knights on the weekend. Young gun Jake Averillo will also return in the centres with Marcelo Montoya shifting to the wing and Christian Crichton dropping out of the 17. Brandon Wakeham will return onto the bench in place for Sauaso Sue.

Last meeting: Round 17 2019 - Knights 14 Bulldogs 20

Who to watch: The Knights are lucky to have quite a few good players in their side, but most importantly Kalyn Ponga. Ponga put in one of his better performances of the season on Saturday recording a try, try assist, line break and eight tackle breaks as he was influential in the Knights dominating opening 40. The star fullback will be looking forward to taking on the Bulldogs who have the fifth worst defence in the competition as he'll be surely looking to add to his four tries so far this season. His short kicking game seems to be a big feature this year with five forced drop outs so far and is on track to record a career high in this stat.

The 206 game veteran in Kieran Foran is as always the one to watch for the Bulldogs. The New Zealand international is arguably the most influential component to the Bulldogs performance. When he came off during the weekend the Bulldogs led by 10 points and they failed to score another try with their star five-eighth off the field. He surprisingly four try assists in a side that has the worst attack in the competition and he could create a nice combination with their new fullback Nick Meaney who had arguably his best game of his career on the weekend.

The favourite: The Knights enter this clash as the favourites which is obviously understandable and it would be a serious upset if the Bulldogs can come away with the two points on Saturday night. The Knights look certain to win their first game in Newcastle against the Bulldogs since 2013.

My tip: This one should be one of the easier matches to predict for round 11 and the Knights seem certain to win this one. The Knights will keep their spot in fourth place if they win on the weekend and I expect this will happen. It's going to be a tough task for the Bulldogs coming up against the Knights firing pack. Knights by 20.

1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Enari Tuala 3. Tautau Moga 4. Bradman Best 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Kurt Mann 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. David Klemmer 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Jacob Saifiti 11. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 17. Sione Mata'utia 15. Mitchell Barnett 12. Aidan Guerra 13. Herman Ese'ese 14. Connor Watson 16. Pasami Saulo

1. Nick Meaney 2. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak 3. Kerrod Holland 4. Jake Averillo 5. Marcelo Montoya 6. Kieran Foran 7. Lachlan Lewis 8. Aiden Tolman 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Dylan Napa 11. Josh Jackson 12. Raymond Faitala-Mariner 13. Luke Thompson 14. Brandon Wakeham 15. Sione Katoa 16. Renouf To'omaga 17. Ofahiki Ogden

Referees: Matt Cecchin; Sideline Officials: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski, Kasey Badger; Video Referees: Steve Chiddy, Bryan Norrie;

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