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Wests Tigers will be determined to bounce back from a disappointing performance in Round 12 when they take on the Newcastle Knights this Saturday in a must-win game at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Having gone in to last week's contest against the New Zealand Warriors on the cusp of the top eight, an upset 26-20 defeat for Wests Tigers has left Michael Maguire's side on the outside of finals contention with eight games remaining.

Currently sitting in tenth position, Saturday's game is a near must-win for Wests Tigers given their opponents Newcastle sit narrowly ahead of them in seventh.

With a superior for-and-against in their favour, a win for Wests Tigers would likely move them back in to the top eight ahead of a home game next weekend against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Bankwest Stadium.

Maguire is set to welcome back a couple of familiar faces for Saturday's game with Joey Leilua and Russell Packer both returning after suspension. Leilua has not played for Wests Tigers since Round 8, and his return to the right edge with in-form winger David Nofoaluma is certainly a boost for Wests Tigers, while Packer's inclusion would help shore up the middle after last week's effort.

The visitors will be without in-form hooker Harry Grant, however, after he picked up a minor knee injury at training. Co-captain Moses Mbye shifts to hooker as his replacement, with new recruit Asu Kepaoa to make his debut on the wing.

Saturday's game is set to be a special occasion for Wests Tigers with Chris Lawrence bringing up his 250th NRL game — all of which have been with the club — while Premiership Winner Benji Marshall is also in line for his 250th club game.

Wests Tigers will be out for a better performance against the Knights than when they last met in Round 2 prior to the competition shut-down, with the visitors running out 42-24 victors at Leichhardt Oval. Despite that result, however, Wests Tigers have won five of their last seven games against the Novacastrians — including their past three matches played at McDonald Jones Stadium.

MATCH DETAILS

Date — Saturday, August 8, 2020

Time — 5:30pm AEST

Venue — McDonald Jones Stadium

TV, RADIO AND LIVE STREAM INFORMATION

TV — Live via FOX League (Ch.502)

Radio — AM 702 ABC Grandstand, AM 873 2GB

Live Stream — Foxtel Go, KAYO, NRL Digital Pass and Watch NRL (int.)

UPDATED TEAM NEWS

Newcastle Knights — No changes expected from the side originally named during the week. New recruit Blake Green starts at five-eighth, allowing Kurt Mann to shift to hooker in place of Chris Randall, who drops out of the side. Centres Bradman Best (ankle) and Tautau Moga (dropped) are replaced by Gehamat Shibasaki and Star Toa, who starts on the wing with Enari Tuala shifting in. Brodie Jones replaces the suspended Pasami Saulo on the bench.

Wests Tigers — No changes expected from the sideline originally named during the week. Injuries to Harry Grant (knee) and lock Alex Twal (ribs) are out injured see Moses Mbye shift to dummy half and Matt Eisenhuth move back at lock, Tommy Talau goes to centre and new recruit Asu Kepaoa will make his debut on the wing. Centre Joey Leilua returns from suspension, bumping Chris Lawrence to the bench. Luke Brooks is back starting in the halves with Billy Walters dropping to the pine. Russell Packer returns from suspension in place of Ollie Clark at prop. Sam McIntyre starts in the second row with Luke Garner dropped to the reserves.

Team Lists

Backs

  • Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn Ponga
    Fullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Adam Doueihi
  • Winger for Knights is number 2 Starford To'a
    Winger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
  • Centre for Knights is number 3 Enari Tuala
    Centre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Joseph Leilua
  • Centre for Knights is number 4 Gehamat Shibasaki
    Centre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Tommy Talau
  • Winger for Knights is number 5 Hymel Hunt
    Winger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Asu Kepaoa
  • Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Blake Green
    Five-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Luke Brooks
  • Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell Pearce
    Halfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Benji Marshall

Forwards

  • Prop for Knights is number 8 David Klemmer
    Prop for Wests Tigers is number 8 Josh Aloiai
  • Hooker for Knights is number 9 Kurt Mann
    Hooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Moses Mbye
  • Prop for Knights is number 10 Jacob Saifiti
    Prop for Wests Tigers is number 10 Russell Packer
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon
    2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Luciano Leilua
  • 2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Aidan Guerra
    2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 16 Chris Lawrence
  • Lock for Knights is number 13 Mitchell Barnett
    Lock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Matthew Eisenhuth

Interchange

  • Interchange for Knights is number 14 Phoenix Crossland
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 12 Sam McIntyre
  • Interchange for Knights is number 15 Josh King
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Thomas Mikaele
  • Interchange for Knights is number 16 Herman Ese'ese
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Shawn Blore
  • Interchange for Knights is number 17 Brodie Jones
    Interchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Billy Walters

Match Officials

  • Referee: Matt Cecchin
  • Touch Judge: Dave Munro
  • Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
  • Video Referee: Ben Lowe
  • Senior Review Official: Jared Maxwell

Last updated:

LATEST NEDS ODDS

H2H — Newcastle Knights ($1.70), Wests Tigers ($2.15)

Line — Newcastle Knights (-3.5) $2.00, Wests Tigers (+3.5) $2.00

Odds correct as of 2:00pm, August 4. 18+ only. Gamble responsibly.

HISTORY

Head-to-Head — Played 29, Wests Tigers 15, Newcastle Knights 14

At McDonald Jones Stadium — Played 16, Wests Tigers 8, Newcastle Knights 8

Last Time They Met — Newcastle Knights 42 def. Wests Tigers 24 (Rd.2, 2019)

MATCH OFFICIALS

Referee — Matt Cecchin

Touch Judge — David Munro and Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski

Review Official — Ben Lowe and Jared Maxwell