They say never judge a book by its cover and the cliché fits nicely when analyzing this week’s opposition.
Newcastle have lost three of their first four games and a draw against the Raiders in Round 3 remains their only point of the campaign so far.
However taking out all the media critique and looking under the surface, there is plenty to ponder as we get set to host the Knights at AAMI Park this Saturday.
Finding their feet
When you have 12 players leave your club in the off-season and a new coach come in, naturally things are going to take some time. That would explain the heavy defeats to the Titans and Rabbitohs early on but things have been much improved since then. The Knights were unlucky not to beat Canberra and if not for a lapse against the Warriors in which they conceded four tries in 15 minutes, the scoreline would have been much closer. With an entirely new side it is just a matter of time before things start to click into gear for them.
Knights on the attack
Newcastle have started the season playing attacking rugby league so you can expect them to throw the football around AAMI Park on Saturday. Their threat in attack is amplified when you consider they have had little trouble scoring points against Storm recently, averaging 19 points a game in the last seven outings against Craig Bellamy’s men. The Knights’ undoing has been their defence which currently ranks 16th in the competition (conceding 35.5 points per game). However with a ‘nothing to lose, everything to gain’ attitude the visitors will certainly not go down without an entertaining fight.
Making Melbourne home
Given their recent record at AAMI Park you could understand why they may consider it a home away from home. That could be why Nathan Brown and his team flew direct to Melbourne from Auckland and have spent the week training next door at Collingwood Football Club’s Holden Centre. It will be interesting to see whether the tactic to combat the short turnaround will pay off.