Knights v Eels preview

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Newcastle Knights v Parramatta Eels Sunday 4:05pm at McDonald Jones Stadium

After a shock win on Sunday afternoon, the Knights host the third placed Parramatta Eels at McDonald Jones Stadium.

A surprising eight-point victory for the Newcastle Knights over arch rivals the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles was the biggest upset of the weekend as it granted the club just their second win from their last six matches.

It was a sigh of relief for Adam O'Brien and his supporters as the Knights were able to keep the Sea Eagles to under 15 points, something which Newcastle had failed to achieve before the weekend, having conceded 36 points in each of the last two weekends. Conceding only 10 points and keeping Tom Trbojevic under wraps were key to the Knights victory as they looked defensively sound for the first time in a long time.

The injury-ravaged Knights have named a fairly weak side for their clash with the Eels as Jack Johns has been named to make his club debut. The Knights suffer big losses in both David Klemmer and Tyson Frizzel who are replaced with Sauaso Sue and Brodie Jones in the starting side. Jacob Saifiti has been promoted into the starting side for his brother who is on representative duties whilst Kurt Mann and Nathanael Sasagi come on the bench.

A tough task in Newcastle awaits them on Sunday afternoon and the travelling Parramatta Eels will be fired up after their defeat to the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Parramatta are still in third place having won nine of their 12 matches so far this season whilst maintaining both the fourth best attack and defence.

Their loss on the weekend probably came as a bit of a shock to the Eels but they couldn't contain the marching South Sydney attack. The Rabbitohs managed to run seven tries in against Parramatta, the most the Eels have conceded all season.

The top four side have named a fairly strong side with many of their key players missing Origin selection. The Eels have selected Reed Mahoney at Hooker after he was released from Queensland camp. The Eels have lost only Junior Paulo to State of Origin duties as former Origin winger Blake Ferguson is dropped from the side. Dylan Brown and Reagan Campbell-Gillard return from suspension, pushing Oregon Kaufusi to the bench and rookie Jakob Arthur to the reserves. Marata Niukore has been named to start in the front row for Paulo whilst Haze Dunster stars in Ferguson's place on the wing.

Last meeting: Round 9 2020 - Knights 4 Eels 10

Who to watch: With Reed Mahoney being named to start, it's given the fans an opportunity to witness a battle between two up and coming hookers. First of all, the home captain Jayden Brailey has been ever so consistent for the Knights across his 12 appearances this season, scoring three tries whilst averaging a whopping 50 tackles per match. The former Shark is arguably playing the best football of his career and has assisted four tries throughout the year including one against Manly on Sunday. His opposing number and Queensland call-up Reed Mahoney has bene having the best year of his career has he has been influential in Parramatta's season thus far. The little dummy-half has scored two tries and assisted an incredible 10 tries in his 12 games so far this year, whilst averaging a career high in run metres, 43 per game. The Queenslander gets through a mountain of work in defence as well averaging an impressive 44.5 tackles per game. This battle between two of the better up and coming hookers will be an intriguing match up to watch on Sunday afternoon.

The favourite: The Eels are the favourite for this clash in Newcastle and rightly so. The Eels currently sit in third place and fielding a side that is hardly affected by State of Origin will only help their cause. Their opponents are suffering several injuries and are required to field many second string players as they attempt to claw their way back into the top eight. The return of Dylan Brown and Reagan Campbell-Gillard are massive for the Eels.

My tip: Despite the Knights victory on the weekend, I find it hard to believe that they'll be able to keep another top six side to 10 points of less. Dylan Brown will be fresh and fired up as he returns from injury and the Eels just overall match up very well against this Knights side. The Eels forwards to cause too much damage in Newcastle on Sunday. Parramatta by 12.

1. Tex Hoy 2. Starford To'a 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bradman Best 5. Brayden Musgrove 18. Jake Clifford 14. Kurt Mann 8. Sauaso Sue 9. Jayden Brailey 10. Jacob Saifiti 11. Brodie Jones 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Mitchell Barnett 6. Connor Watson 15. Josh King 16. Jack Johns 20. Mathew Croker 17. Simi Sasagi

1. Clinton Gutherson 2. Maika Sivo 3. Tom Opacic 4. Waqa Blake 5. Haze Dunster 6. Dylan Brown 7. Mitchell Moses 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Reed Mahoney 10. Marata Niukore 11. Isaiah Papali'i 12. Ryan Matterson 13. Nathan Brown 14. Will Smith 15. Shaun Lane 16. Oregon Kaufusi 17. Bryce Cartwright 19. Makahesi Makatoa

Referees: Adam Gee; Sideline Officials: Peter Gough, Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski; Video Referees: Chris Butler;

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