Just about every footy follower reckoned the Warriors would be hammered by Melbourne last week, especially when they lost superstar fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
But there they were on the Storm's home turf, leading 12-10 with five minutes to go before having their hearts broken by a Cameron Munster penalty goal and Brodie Croft field goal.
The moral of the story is that the Warriors showed like they did against Souths that they can stand toe to toe with any team in the competition when they're in the mood and there's no reason why they can't play with the same concentration and conviction every week.
The Knights saved their season with a morale-boosting win over the Eels but it will count for little if they don't back it up with another strong performance on Sunday in Auckland.
Warriors: Skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returns from a hamstring injury at fullback allowing Peta Hiku to move back to the centres. On the negative side, winger David Fusitu'a (ribs) is out, replaced by Gerard Beale. Solomone Kata and Ligi Sao were left out an hour before game time. Blake Green (groin) is back at halfback, allowing Tohu Harris to return to his favoured second row position. Adam Blair goes to the bench. Jazz Tevaga is out with a calf injury.
Knights: Sione Mata'Utia will start in the centres in place of injured Jesse Ramien (shoulder), with Kurt Mann elevated to the bench. After Pasami Saulo and Ramien were cut on Saturday, Mason Lino and Jamie Buhrer were omitted an hour before game time. The Knights are chasing back-to-back wins for the first time since rounds 18 and 19 last year.
The Newcastle forwards have to back up last week's strong effort, but it's the clash of the No.1s that everyone wants to see. Hopefully RTS is over the hamstring ailment that kept him out of last week's loss to Melbourne because the Warriors will need him to out-shine Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga, who had arguably his best game of the season last week.
For the Warriors to win
While they no doubt will welcome back RTS, the Warriors need to bring the same intensity and energy that almost carried them to a shock Anzac Day upset of the Storm. They proved they can compete without RTS and Blake Green and must play with the same pack mentality every week.
For the Knights to win
Last week's drought-breaking victory should put a spring in their step and it's up to Nathan Brown to turn those good vibes into a winning formula and steer his team firmly into finals contention. Pearce and Ponga have to produce the same take-charge displays, while Connor Watson and Danny Levi need to prove their standout performances were no flash in the pan.
Brett Kimmorley says
Newcastle were great. They were challenged, and responded. Their three best were Pearce, Ponga and Klemmer. That can win games for them every week. It’s hard to say why can’t we have that every week. For the Warriors their inability to close out close games is hurting them. If they can play as good as they did against the Storm, they should win. Now it’s a matter of whether Stephen Kearney can do that. Warriors by 2
Even though he missed last week's game Roger Tuivasa-Sheck still leads the NRL in line breaks (8) and is equal second in tackle breaks (41). He is also seventh in run metres (1,170). The Knights have more charge-downs (4) than any team, with prop Dave Klemmer having two to his name.
And another thing ...
Dave Klemmer was his usual hard-working self in the 28-14 defeat of Parramatta, finishing with a team-high 202 run metres, 67 post-contact metres, 19 hit-ups and 32 tackles. Knights hooker Danny Levi responded to criticism with 41 tackles, two try assists and a line break assist. Coach Brown will challenge Levi to have a similar impact against the Warriors. Both teams have 2-5 records.