Bulldogs v Knights preview

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Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs v Newcastle Knights Friday 6:00pm at Suncorp Stadium, Milton

Magic Round time! One of the true highlights of the NRL season, and I personally can't wait to get up to Brisbane for it to savour every minute of every game.

Kicking off this festival of Rugby League is the battle for the bottom, The Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs up against the Newcastle Knight, in the most appropriate of timeslots, the Friday 6pm "we hate the fans" kickoff. The mere existence of this permanent timeslot is an insult to anyone that has ever spent their hard-earned money on attending an NRL game.

The Bulldogs come into this game after one of their most pathetic performances yet, managing to play a previously hopelessly out of form Canberra back into the winners circle. The Dogs really needed to follow up their previous week's victory over the Sydney Roosters with another strong performance, however this was not forthcoming.

The Knights come into this game on the back of 7 straight losses, the latest being a 20 point loss to the North Queensland Cowboys. The last 3 games alone, they have lost by the combined score of 125-20, although it must be said that two of those games were against the Melbourne Storm, and the March Premiers, Parramatta.

In team news. I give up. Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett changed a winning team, reverting it back to the previously losing formula, that in turn put in their worst performance of the season. To keep it on topic, only one change this week with Chris Patolo coming in for Ava Seumanufagai on the bench. Otherwise, the same 13 that took the park last week get to go again ,without any consequences.

For Newcastle, Adam Clune and Mitchell Barnett come straight back into the starting lineup, who will both be welcome returns. Edrick Lee is selected, however will need to pass NRL concussion protocols to take his place. The only real change to the starting 13 for Newcastle is at halfback.

Last time these 2 teams met was in Round 23 of 2021, on the Gold Coast (of course), with the Knights running out 22-16 winners. Of note that there are only 5 Bulldogs survivors from the starting lineup that day, and 6 Knights survivors.

Of interest is to see which of these two teams really want this win, it actually may be an enthralling matchup of two desperate teams. The skill levels and fitness levels may be low, but I'm intrigued to see what they can serve up to kick off Magic Round.

Last meeting: Round 23 2021 - Bulldogs 16 Knights 22

The favourite: At the time of writing, Canterbury was $1.71 favourites. 

My tip: I've seen too much of Canterbury and I know what's going to happen here. Congratulations Newcastle fans, your team will be played right back into form after an awful last 7 weeks. Enjoy it. Newcastle by 10.

1. Matt Dufty 22. Jayden Okunbor 2. Brent Naden 4. Aaron Schoupp 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Matt Burton 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Luke Thompson 9. Jeremy Marshall-King 10. Paul Vaughan 11. Corey Waddell 12. Tevita Pangai Junior 13. Josh Jackson 14. Bailey Biondi-Odo 15. Joe Stimson 16. Max King 17. Chris Patolo 18. Jake Averillo

1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Edrick Lee 3. Enari Tuala 4. Bradman Best 5. Dominic Young 6. Tex Hoy 7. Adam Clune 8. David Klemmer 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Mitchell Barnett 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 13. Leo Thompson 14. Phoenix Crossland 15. Jacob Saifiti 16. Pasami Saulo 17. Mathew Croker 18. Simi Sasagi

Referees: Peter Gough; Sideline Officials: Belinda Sharpe, Michael Wise; Video Referees: Adam Gee;

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