Newcastle Knights v Brisbane Broncos Saturday, April 7, 7:30pm (AEST) McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
The Knights have come crashing back to earth over the past fortnight, with two big losses to the Roosters and Dragons respectively. Tautau Moga suffered another ACL injury in a bitter blow for the Novocastrians. The Broncos suffered a shock loss to the Titans last week, and you can expect a big response here with master coach Wayne Bennett coming up against one of his former clubs. Look for James Roberts and Jack Bird to be heavily involved this week after disappointing efforts against the Titans.
FormNewcastle won their opening two games before being hammered by the Sydney Roosters and St George Illawarra. The Knights have dropped to 12th on the ladder with the third worst defence in the premiership. Brisbane also have a 2-2 record and enter this off one of their worst ever losses, a home drubbing at the hands of the Titans. That followed a controversial win over the Wests Tigers where they did not manage a try. Brisbane rank 13th in attack and 10th in defence.
Key MatchupKalyn Ponga v Darius Boyd: Ponga has been a revelation since making the move to Newcastle and is arguably the form fullback of the NRL alongside Tom Trbojevic. He already has 25 tackle-breaks for the year and is a threat every time he runs the ball. He also has made a line-break in each of the Knights games this year. Darius Boyd has looked off the pace this season and there is even rumours around that Anthony Milford and Boyd could shift positions at some stage throughout the season. Boyd might not be fully fit, but he needs to do more with the ball to take the pressure off Milford and Kodi Nikorima.
Stats That Matter– Newcastle are 2-2 ATS with a 2-2 total record while Brisbane are 1-3 ATS with a 2-2 total record. – Brisbane have won six straight against Newcastle with an average winning margin of 28 points over that time. – The Broncos have posted at least 31 in those six games. – The Knights have won just 1 of the 13 games played since 2011. – The Broncos haven’t lost in six games at Hunter Stadium with their last loss at the ground coming in 2010. – The Knights are 6-9 ATS with a 10-5 under record when shorter than $2.00 over the last four years. – Newcastle have covered 4 of their last 5 at Hunter while the under hits at 59% at the ground since 2015. – At night at the ground, Newcastle are 3-6 ATS with a 7-2 under record. – The Broncos are 11-6 ATS as an underdog away from Suncorp while they are 9-4 ATS as an outsider of less than a converted try. – Brisbane are 11-4 ATS away from Suncorp off a loss.
Final ThoughtsIs the fairy tale run over for the Knights after their start to the season? The Wolf doesn’t think so, but they are facing a Broncos side this week which was embarrassed by their little brother in the Titans last week. The Broncos have a very strong record over the Knights and haven’t lost in Newcastle since 2010. The Wolf isn’t expecting a blowout, but the Broncos will be desperate and have a point to prove after the disappointment of the shock loss to the Titans.
How It’s Shaping UpBrisbane by 6
Recommended BetsBest: Brisbane ($1.91) Value: Brisbane 1-12 ($3.20) First Tryscorer: James Roberts ($10)