Round 21 in the NRL kicks off on Thursday night as the Newcastle Knights 'host' the Brisbane Broncos from, you guessed it, Suncorp Stadium. Greg Davis is back with another full preview as well as some of his best bets for the clash below.
Newcastle Knights vs Brisbane Broncos Betting Tips
Suncorp Stadium, Thursday 5th August, 7.50pm (AEST)
Newcastle: 1. Kalyn Ponga 2. Enari Tuala 3. Kurt Mann 4. Bradman Best 5. Hymel Hunt 6. Jake Clifford 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Jacob Saifiti 9. Chris Randall 10. Daniel Saifiti 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Mitchell Barnett 13. Connor Watson. Interchange: 14. Sauaso Sue 15. David Klemmer 16. Josh King 17. Brodie Jones. Reserves: 18. Phoenix Crossland 19. Lachlan Fitzgibbon 20. Starford To'a 21. Jack Johns
Brisbane: 1. Tesi Niu 2. Corey Oates 3. Jesse Arthars 4. Herbie Farnworth 5. Jamayne Isaako 6. Tyson Gamble 7. Brodie Croft 8. Keenan Palasia 9. Danny Levi 10. Payne Haas 11. Alex Glenn 12. Jordan Riki 13. Kobe Hetherington. Interchange: 14. Xavier Willison 15. Rhys Kennedy 16. Ethan Bullemor 17. TC Robati. Reserves: 18. David Mead 19. Albert Kelly 20. Anthony Milford 21. Xavier Coates
‘PONGA Power’ was the difference between Newcastle and Canberra last week and it shapes as the decisive factor when the Knights take on Brisbane this Thursday.
Superstar Kalyn Ponga showed why he is in the upper echelon of bona fide NRL match-winners with an outstanding performance alongside teammate Bradman Best in Newcastle’s 34-24 victory over the Raiders.
Ponga scored one try, had two try assists, five tackle breaks, two linebreak assists and one linebreak along with running for 119 metres. He did everything but win the raffle for the meat tray while Best was also a standout for the Knights.
The Knights are one of the five teams involved in the logjam for the bottom two spots in the top eight with Newcastle in a dogfight with Gold Coast, Cronulla, Canberra and St George Illawarra to be cannon fodder in the finals.
Only for-and-against separates the five teams that stretch from seventh to 11th on the ladder with just five games left before the finals series.
So pretty much every outing from now until September is a ‘must-win’ for the five teams that boast a thoroughly uninspiring 8-11 record.
Hard to believe that any side with an 8-11 record could still be in the hunt for the finals but that’s rugby league 2021-style for you.
Ponga is on the big bucks for a reason and getting his team home against teams like the 15th-placed Broncos is very much part of it. Given the Knights will be coming off a perilously short four-day break, they will be looking to their fullback to bring the spark.
He is the best player in this match by the length of Caxton Street.
His attacking prowess should be too much for Brisbane’s flimsy defensive line to handle. The strength, the speed, the evasive skills and the pinpoint passing should be giving the edge defenders at the Broncos nightmares.
The return of Mitchell Pearce to the Knights line-up will only help Ponga’s cause as the veteran halfback will give him more time and space to wreak havoc.
The Broncos will take some confidence into the clash after securing a 37-18 win over the Cowboys last Friday but North Queensland is cooked. So very, very cooked.
In another season of despair for Brisbane, they had every right to celebrate their Queensland Derby victory but in the big picture, they didn’t beat much. The Knights will present a much sterner test here.
Brisbane have lost strike centre Kotoni Staggs (knee) and hooker Jake Turpin (ankle) in a double blow for the Broncos. Staggs especially has given Brisbane so much attacking thrust since his return from a knee injury.
The Broncos have had an extra two days to prepare for this match compared to the Knights but Newcastle have more firepower out wide with Ponga and Best and more grunt in the middle of the park.
And they have the added motivation of being in the hunt for the finals. This time of year, always back the team that needs to win the most.
Total Over 50.5 Points ($1.90 at Sportsbet)
First Tryscorer – Kalyn Ponga ($9 at Sportsbet)
Try Anytime – Alex Glenn ($5 at Sportsbet)