A couple of young and exciting teams will do battle on Sunday when the Newcastle Knights host the St George Illawarra Dragons on Easter Sunday.
The Knights’ impressive start to the season hit a snag last weekend when they lost to the Tigers in Mitchell Pearce’s 300th game.
The Dragons have been very impressive and find themselves in the eight after a couple of decisive victories.
Despite the loss to the Tigers, the Knights had some impressive contributors.
Fullback Tex Hoy (20 carries for 178 metres, one try, one try assist) continued to prove himself as a bona fide first grade talent in the continued absence of Origin star Kayln Ponga.
Forwards, David Klemmer (20 carries for 193 metres, 41 tackles), Daniel Safiti (16 carries for 167 metres, 30 tackles), Mitchell Barnett (21 carries for 142 metres, one try) and Connor Watson (16 carries for 151 metres, one try assist, 33 tackles) proved to be a handful for the Tigers and kept them in the match.
Former Dragon Tyson Frizzell (11 carries for 114 metres, one try) is primed for the grudge match against his old side.
Young Dragons backs Matthew Dufty and Zac Lomax continued their impressive start to the season, both crossing the line twice.
Winger Mikaele Ravalawa (18 carries for 150 metres) was also good.
While forwards Blake Lawrie (14 carries for 136 metres, 25 tackles), Paul Vaughan (17 carries for 166 metres, 20 tackles) and Tariq Sims (13 carries for 127 metres, one try assist, 32 tackles) played themselves into form in preparation for this important clash.
Young centre Bradman Best was a late out for the Knights last week and will continue his stint on the sidelines indefinitely with an elbow injury.
Gehamat Shibasaki replaces Best at centre while Starford To’a comes in on the wing and Dominic Young, who replaced Best last week, returns to the reserves.
Jacob Safiti has been named in the squad despite failing to finish last week’s game against the Tigers.
Five-eighth Blake Green has also been named on the bench for his first game of the year as he returns from a knee injury.
The Dragons squad has taken a massive hit with centre Jack Bird and halfback Ben Hunt both missing.
Bird has been suspended for one game and will be replaced by Brayden Williame.
While Hunt suffered an impact fracture to his fibula and will miss a couple of weeks.
The skipper has been replaced at halfback by Adam Clune and Andrew McCullough will captain.