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.
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.
Fullback for Knights is number 1 Kalyn PongaFullback for Wests Tigers is number 1 Adam Doueihi
Winger for Knights is number 2 Starford To'aWinger for Wests Tigers is number 2 David Nofoaluma
Centre for Knights is number 3 Enari TualaCentre for Wests Tigers is number 3 Joseph Leilua
Centre for Knights is number 4 Gehamat ShibasakiCentre for Wests Tigers is number 4 Tommy Talau
Winger for Knights is number 5 Hymel HuntWinger for Wests Tigers is number 5 Asu Kepaoa
Five-Eighth for Knights is number 6 Blake GreenFive-Eighth for Wests Tigers is number 6 Luke Brooks
Halfback for Knights is number 7 Mitchell PearceHalfback for Wests Tigers is number 7 Benji Marshall
Prop for Knights is number 8 David KlemmerProp for Wests Tigers is number 8 Josh Aloiai
Hooker for Knights is number 9 Kurt MannHooker for Wests Tigers is number 9 Moses Mbye
Prop for Knights is number 10 Jacob SaifitiProp for Wests Tigers is number 10 Russell Packer
2nd Row for Knights is number 11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 11 Luciano Leilua
2nd Row for Knights is number 12 Aidan Guerra2nd Row for Wests Tigers is number 16 Chris Lawrence
Lock for Knights is number 13 Mitchell BarnettLock for Wests Tigers is number 13 Matthew Eisenhuth
Interchange for Knights is number 14 Phoenix CrosslandInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 12 Sam McIntyre
Interchange for Knights is number 15 Josh KingInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 14 Thomas Mikaele
Interchange for Knights is number 16 Herman Ese'eseInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 15 Shawn Blore
Interchange for Knights is number 17 Brodie JonesInterchange for Wests Tigers is number 17 Billy Walters
- Referee: Matt Cecchin
- Touch Judge: Dave Munro
- Touch Judge: Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
- Video Referee: Ben Lowe
- Senior Review Official: Jared Maxwell
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.
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)
Referee — Matt Cecchin
Touch Judge — David Munro and Ziggy Przeklasa-Adamski
Review Official — Ben Lowe and Jared Maxwell