The Best of the Day preview takes the first hit-up with NRL tips for the Origin-weary Newcastle Knights’ Friday night clash with the struggling Canterbury Bulldogs.
20:00 (AEST) @ McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
History: Played 47: Canterbury 25 V Newcastle 21 (1 Draw)
Last meeting: Round 9, 2019: Newcastle 22 d Canterbury 10 at Suncorp Stadium
Final Thoughts: The
The Newcastle Knights have negotiated a taxing Origin period admirably so far. But they will be eager to avoid a slip-up as the last-placed Canterbury Bulldogs come to town just 48 hours after Wednesday’s epic decider.
Knights forward trio David Klemmer, Daniel Saifiti and Tim Glasby were all named in the reserves and are no certainty to back up. Mitchell Pearce was named at halfback and should play, despite a gruelling Origin assignment.
WATCH | Pearce soaks up first series win
— Newcastle Knights (@NRLKnights) July 11, 2019
The Bulldogs do not have any players backing up from Origin, with Dylan Napa excluded from Queensland’s final 17.
Lachlan Fitzgibbon is a big out for Newcastle, joining superstar fullback Kalyn Ponga in the casualty ward. Kieran Foran’s absence is a huge blow for Canterbury; rookie Brandon Wakeham comes into the halves.
What initially was an ordinary ride to a #CanterburyCup fixture, became an extraordinary moment when the Wakeham family received a career defining phone call.
— Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (@NRL_Bulldogs) July 7, 2019
The Knights have won seven of their last nine. A severely depleted line-up fought gamely against the Warriors, but gave up a 10-point halftime lead to lose 24-20.
After struggling offensively at the start of the season, they have been held to less than 20 points just once in their past nine games.
— NRL (@NRL) July 6, 2019
The Bulldogs snapped a four-match losing streak with a gutsy 14-12 upset of Cronulla before last week’s bye.
But they have not scored more than 14 points in their past five games and have topped 16 just three times in 2019.
— NRL (@NRL) June 30, 2019
Newcastle’s 22-10 win during Magic Round snapped a six-match losing run against Canterbury.
The Bulldogs have won their last four in Newcastle, including a 36-16 victory in a clash of the also-rans last year.
Seven of the last nine encounters between the clubs have produced 38 points or less. The Knights did not score more than 22 points in any of those clashes.
Newcastle need to dig deep here – particularly if a couple of their Origin contingent are ruled out – but they should squeeze past a Bulldogs side with the worst attacking and defensive numbers in the NRL.