NRL: Canterbury Bulldogs, Newcastle Knights, match preview

Canterbury and Newcastle go head-to-head in a bottom-of-the-table clash to kick off Magic Round at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

No matter where these two teams sit on the ladder, an intriguing clash awaits two proud clubs who endured different stories to start the year but manage to find themselves languishing behind 14 other teams.

The Bulldogs were always going to take time to form a unit with a host of new signings at the club and although they didn’t get the result against Canberra in the last start, there are signs that Trent Barrett’s side is rising, albeit slowly.

Newcastle have started the season in blistering form but have encountered a number of hurdles, none more so than in recent weeks with heavy losses to Cowboys, Storm and Eels.

It’s pretty easy to guess where it all started to go wrong for the Hunter Club.

It was the afternoon in Bathurst when Mitchell Barnett was sent off against the Panthers that the numbers started to turn. Since then, Barnett has watched from the sidelines as the team hasn’t won a game.

Injuries have added to the woes, but in a boost for Adam O’Brien, around six including Barnett, must return this week with undoubtedly a point to prove.

Both of these teams need a little magic in the NRL Special Round. These two teams met in the Magic Round in 2019, with the Knights winning 22-12.

Canterbury are down to just two players from that side while Newcastle have eight, showing the turnover of both clubs in recent years.

Sports Betting Preview: Bulldogs vs. Knights

The summary

Team News

Bulldogs: Only one change made by Trent Barrett with Chris Patolo coming on the bench for Ava Seumanufagai, who moves to the 18th man. Raymond Faitala-Mariner has been included in the reserves as he closes in on a return from a complicated foot injury. No changes in Thursday’s 24-hour update.

Knights: A double boost with Mitchell Barnett and Adam Clune named to return. Barnett’s comeback lasts six weeks after receiving a lengthy ban for a raised elbow in the third round. He replaces Jack Johns (arm) who is facing away for some time. Clune missed last week’s game with a knee injury and his comeback moved Phoenix Crossland to the bench. Sauaso Sue was included in the reserves after missing last week with a blow to the head. Edrick Lee (head kick) will need to pass concussion protocols to play. No change when the squad was reduced to 19 on Thursday.

Matching Keys

Paul Vaughan vs. Daniel Saifiti: One is a former NSW Origin prop and the other is a starter, although you get the feeling Saifiti’s place in the Blues squad awaits him in his next three weeks of football after a debut slow personal year. Vaughan arrived at Belmore averaging 126 yards per game with 12 tackle saves and three offloads. Saifiti (108 yards) hasn’t been as effective this season as the usually strong defensive stalwart missed 13 tackles in seven games. Saifiti’s right-hand man, David Klemmer, has been playing strong but needs a mate to go with him and establish a platform to work with for the Knights.

Stat Attack

Points haven’t been easy for either side to start the season, but that’s nothing new for either club over the past 18 months, with Newcastle and Canterbury also ranked in the bottom two in attack. last season. Despite significant player turnover, the Bulldogs still average only 10 points per game. Newcastle are not much better (12 per game). Expect this one to drop to the wire, especially if the heavens open up in this one.

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