Knights Set To Fight Off Tigers

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Kurt Gidley goes into the new season at full fitness. Image courtesy of
Last 5 Meetings

Round 16 2012 – Newcastle Knights 38 d Wests Tigers 20 at Hunter Stadium
Round 13 2011 – Wests Tigers 17 d Newcastle Knights 16 at Leichhardt Oval
Round 11 2010 – Wests Tigers 23 d Newcastle Knights 6 at Hunter Stadium
Round 7 2009 – Wests Tigers 26 d Newcastle Knights 24 at Campbelltown Stadium
Round 10 2008 – Wests Tigers 38 d Newcastle Knights 26 at Hunter Stadium

The Newcastle Knights  open their second season under master coach Wayne Bennett against Wests Tigers  at Hunter Stadium on Monday night, looking to improve on a disappointing 2012 campaign that saw them miss the finals. Beau Scott and Jeremy Smith were both lured to Newcastle to give the club a harder edge and both will run out for the Knights for the first time against Wests. Skipper Kurt Gidley returns at halfback for his first match since suffering a season ending shoulder injury in round eight last season, while Anthony Quinn returns to the club after leaving in 2006. He replaces injured centre Timana Tahu, who is joined in the casualty ward by Matt Hilder and Danny Buderus. Discarded Canberra hooker Travis Waddell will start less than a week after signing for the club.

New Tigers coach Mick Potter has named Braith Anasta in the second row for his first NRL match in Tigers colours, while fellow recruits Bodene Thompson and Eddy Pettybourne could only get a spot on the bench. Young prop Jack Buchanan has been named to debut with Aaron Woods named on an extended six man bench after suffering a knee injury in training last month, while Tim Moltzen beat James Tedesco for the right to wear the number one jersey. It is not the players that will play but rather those who are missing that will have the biggest impact on the Tigers however, with Chris Heighington, Beau Ryan and Gareth Ellis all leaving the club in the off season.

1st Tryscorer – Fijian flyer Akuila Uate  has been one of the most prolific tryscorers in the NRL for the past few seasons and is the obvious place to look for a first tryscorer bet. He was on the scoresheet in the corresponding fixture last year and will capitalise on any opportunity he gets.

20 year old Tigers winger Marika Koroibete  has plenty of things in common with Uate, but the biggest similarity is his ability to sniff out a try. He crossed the tryline seven times in just six matches last season and got four in the 51-26 rout of Parramatta in round 22.

Prediction –Into his second season in the steel city, Wayne Bennett is getting the squad that he wants at the Knights and they look as though they will be a formidable force in 2013. Although they have won just once in the past five meetings between these sides, that result was in the most recent clash here last June. Wests has lost five successive away matches and their woes on the road look set to continue. Newcastle Knights 13+

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