Wests Tigers v Newcastle Knights Saturday, April 21, 5:30pm (AEST) Scully Park, Tamworth
The Tigers blew the Sea Eagles off the park with a first half onslaught at Brookvale Oval last week to make a 5-1 start to the season and continue to shock many experts. Wests find themselves in the unfamiliar position of favourites this week and cannot afford to underestimate the Knights. After making his Tigers debut last week, Josh Reynolds is out with a shoulder injury and is joined on the sidelines by Chris Lawrence who picked up a hamstring injury in the win over the Sea Eagles. Elijah Taylor and Pita Godinet return to the side. The Knights were hammered by the Storm last week, but should receive strong support in Tamworth this weekend. Brock Lamb has been replaced by Jack Cogger in the halves.
FormThe Tigers have marked themselves as the best defensive team in the premiership and are now fourth on the ladder with a 5-1 record. They have conceded just 11.17 points per game. They have won three straight, posting 30-plus in two. Newcastle have won just one of their last four games and have fallen to 10th on the ladder. The Knights now have the second worst defence in the NRL while they rank 12th in scoring.
Key MatchupLuke Brooks v Mitchell Pearce: Luke Brooks has been a revelation over the past fortnight and is the current leader in the race to win the Dally M Medal. Brooks scored a try and had a hand in two others in the Tigers big win over the Sea Eagles last week. He is running the ball more than he ever has in his career and is starting to get the rewards on the field. Mitchell Pearce has been a great signing for the rebuilding Knights and has had a try-assist in each of their matches this season. He has built a formidable combination with Kalyn Ponga in attack, but needs to start running the ball more to test the defensive line and keep them guessing. A Blues jersey could potentially be on the line if Brooks outperforms Pearce here.
Stats That Matter– Wests Tigers are 6-0 ATS with a 4-2 under record while Newcastle are 3-3 ATS with a 3-3 total record. – Wests Tigers have won the last two against Newcastle though lost five of six before then. – Seven of the last eight matches have topped 42 points. – This is the first premiership match played in Tamworth. – The Tigers have covered 13 of their last 15 matches. – They have covered just 1 of their last 6 though as a favourite of 4 or under. – The Tigers have covered 7 of their last 8 after conceding 12 or fewer. – The Knights have covered just 2 of their last 7 games away from Hunter Stadium. – The Knights are 10-15 ATS on the road after losing by 18 or more. – Teams off six straight covers are 34-24 ATS.