Round 7 Preview: Tigers vs Knights

Source: NRL.com

Wests Tigers vs Newcastle Knights
Scully Park, Tamworth
Saturday, April 21st, 2018
5:30pm AEST, 7:30pm NZ

Team Lists
Wests Tigers: 
1 Corey Thompson, 
2 David Nofoaluma, 
3 Esan Marsters, 
4 Kevin Naiqama, 
5 Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, 
6 Benji Marshall (c), 
7 Luke Brooks, 
8 Matthew Eisenhuth, 
9 Jacob Liddle,
10 Ben Matulino, 
11 Josh Aloiai, 
12 Robbie Rochow, 
13 Elijah Taylor (c)
Interchange: 
14 Pita Godinet, 
15 Alex Twal, 
16 Michael Chee-Kam, 
17 Sauaso Sue
Reserves: 19 Chris McQueen, 20 Tyson Gamble
Knights: 
1 Kalyn Ponga, 
2 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 
3 Sione Mata'utia, 
4 Nathan Ross, 
5 Ken Sio, 
6 Jack Cogger, 
7 Mitchell Pearce (c), 
8 Herman Ese'ese, 
9 Slade Griffin, 
18 Daniel Saifiti, 
11 Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 
12 Aidan Guerra, 
13 Mitchell Barnett
Interchange: 
15 Chris Heighington, 
16 Jamie Buhrer (c), 
17 Jacob Saifiti, 
20 Luke Yates
Reserves: 19 Josh King, 21 Cory Denniss
Match Preview
The Wests Tigers will be looking to turn their great start of the season into an incredible one, with a trip to Tamworth to take on the Newcasle Knights. The Knights were looking to take down the Storm last week, however they'd be comprehensively outplayed by Melbourne to leave AAMI Park with a 3-3 record.
The Tigers would make a few changes, with Josh Reynolds out with a shoulder injury that he sustained in his comeback game last week. Pita Godinet would come onto the bench as a relief hooker for Jacob Liddle. Elijah Taylor would also be named at lock, pushing Josh Aloiai into the second row and Matt Eisenhuth into the front row. 
Newcastle would also make a change, with Brock Lamb dropped from the squad despite his better form in the second half of last week. Jack Cogger will be getting his chance to partner up with Mitchell Pearce, while Jacob Lillyman and Danny Levi would be cut from the squad earlier in the week. Daniel Safiti will start for the Knights, with Luke Yates coming onto the bench. 
Key Match-Ups
Ponga vs Thompson
If Billy Slater had retired last year after his shoulder injury ruled him out, you would be looking at the incumbent Queensland fullback in Kalyn Ponga. As well as being able to kick goals, he is always roving around the pack looking for a way to bust through the line. He will be looking for a few offloads close to the line, as welll as being out the back of second-phase plays to be a big impact player this week 
Corey Thompson has quite possibly been one of the most underrated signings of the season for the Tigers, with his ability to play both wing and fullback coming in handy to start this season. He was a proven finisher while at the Bulldogs, and his stint in the Super League confirmed that. He has a passing game that does benefit the side of Marsters and Nofoaluma, as well as a running game that can slice teams right through the guts. The team with the better performing fullback will win this. 
The best of the edge
Aidan Guerra and Lachlan Fitzgibbon have been in superb form for the Knights on both edges to start the season. The Tigers edge forwards have been solid with out needing to be spectacular, with the defense of the full team coming to the forefront over the start of the season. Both Guerra and Fitzgibbon are threats go score, no matter who they come up against and the Tigers edge has stepped up to counter most teams this year. The Newcastle defense will look to threaten Luke Brooks, so if the Tigers edge can hold, they should have the upper hand.
Brooks vs Pearce
A few pundits have said that this game will be the one that could decide who wears the number 7 for New South Wales in the first State of Origin game this year. Luke Brooks has been in career best form, while Mitchell Pearce is the incumbent who seems to always be the first name on the team sheet. Brooks has had the advantage of having a consistent number 6 alongside him, while Pearce has played admirably considering that he will be coming up on his third halves partner in the first seven games. While some don't see Brooks as being ready just yet, this is a good first audition here.
Prediction
The Tigers have been spectacular in defense this year. The Knights have been on and off this year, after a flying start. As much as some are trying to say that Newcastle will roll through the Tigers, you can't help but think that the Tigers will get up here in country NSW.
Tigers: 18-10
Chumpie

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