Wests Tigers will travel up the F3 to take on Newcastle this Sunday at Hunter Stadium in what is shaping as an intriguing clash for both sides this weekend.
The Knights come into the match on the back of a two-week road trip that saw them go down in close fashion to the New Zealand Warriors and then the Melbourne Storm, but return to Newcastle this week desperate to get their first win of the season in front of their home fans.
The Knights were a bit of a bogey side for Jason Taylor’s men last season — winning tight games on both occasions — but history suggests that Wests Tigers will still take plenty of confidence into what should be a great Sunday afternoon of footy at Hunter Stadium.
It’s been a strong start to the year from playmakers Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks, who come into Sunday’s game looking to build on the form that has seen them chalk up 10 try-assists between them so far this season (five try-assists each). No other halves combination in the NRL has recorded more try-assists than the pair, with only premiership-winning halves Jonathan Thurston (8) and Michael Morgan (2) level with the pair so far in 2016.
The duo have also recorded 10 line-break assists this season, a number that rises to an impressive 15 when you add in the five added by in-form fullback James Tedesco.
Speaking of Brooks, the halfback will play his 50th NRL game this weekend — an impressive achievement for a player who doesn’t turn 22 until December. In his 49 games so far, Brooks has a remarkable try-scoring strike-rate for a halfback, with his 17 tries just one try away from the most scored by any Wests Tigers halfback in history (18).
While they might have lost both games last year, Wests Tigers have an impressive record when it comes to Sunday games against Newcastle — particularly at Hunter Stadium. Wests Tigers have won seven of their last nine Sunday games against the Knights, and four of their last five Sunday afternoon games against the Knights at Hunter Stadium.
Overall, though, it’s been a fairly tight contest between Wests Tigers and Newcastle in recent times. Wests Tigers have won five of their last nine games against the Knights (but just one of their last five) and five of their last eight games at Hunter Stadium.
How the home side will respond with the return of Tariq Sims from suspension and on the back of a tough two-game road trip will no doubt be the key questions come Sunday.