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Here's the true test of how Newcastle are going. They've won six in a row and knocked off some top teams, but a full-strength Melbourne will be the greatest indication of where they're sitting midway through the season.

It's a tough time to draw the Storm, that is during the Origin period but in a week that falls just before selection so no players are missing.

The Knights have confidence, though, which can make up for a lot in rugby league. If they can cut down another tall poppy it will be the first time since 2002 they have put together seven wins on the trot. 

The Rundown

Team news

Storm: The Storm will line up 1-17 as named on Tuesday. Winning form is good form so Craig Bellamy has stuck with the same 17 which took care of the Warriors last weekend. The Storm sit a game clear on top of the table and will look to consolidate that position by beating the Knights. Tui Kamikamica and Sandor Earl were cut an hour before kick-off, while Tino Faasuamaleaui and Justin Olam were trimmed from the reserves on Friday.

Knights: Josh King (corked thigh) has been ruled out and replaced on the bench by Pasami Saulo. Also dropping out of the squad on Friday was Aidan Guerra. Kalyn Ponga is back in the No.1 jersey after he was rested by Nathan Brown following Origin I. Mason Lino and Jacob Saifiti were the last players cut before kick-off.

Key match-up

Mitchell Pearce wants another shot at the Blues and he can state his case against the Maroons five-eighth in Cameron Munster. NSW struggled to contain the Storm playmaker in game one, so if Pearce can dominate here, Brad Fittler will have to take notice.

For the Storm to win

It will come through their forwards. The Knights pack were without David Klemmer last week but went toe to toe with the might of South Sydney's big men, but that is still where the Storm can have the most success. Go through the middle, tire them out and the likes of Munster and Cameron Smith can expose them there. 

For the Knights to win

They must smother them. Get up quick and don't give them space to move the ball around where their dangerous backline can take advantage. The Storm have fast hands and lots of speed, it's about nullifying the effectiveness of that.

Brett Kimmorley says

The Knights are on fire. They're playing a pretty simple brand of football that relies on enthusiasm and taking the ball over the advantage line and playing it square, and if they can do that and create momentum against the Melbourne Storm it'll be a good test to see where they're at. It's a huge night for Mitchell Pearce – if he's able to ice a victory over the Storm he could win his old Blues jersey back. But if anyone can find a way to stop the Knights it'll be a Craig Bellamy-coached side. Storm by 4.

Stat Attack

Recent head-to-head against Newcastle doesn't count for much, nearly every team has a good record. With Melbourne though, it stretches further than that. They've won the past six clashes, back to 2016, and in the 11 matches before that (going back to 2010) the ledger is 8-3 in the Storm's favour.

And another thing ...

A Knights win would complete a top-three trifecta for them, having knocked off second and third spot in the Rabbitohs and Roosters their past two matches. Both those teams were understrength, it could be argued (though the Knights were missing Origin players against Souths too) whereas they will face Melbourne with all their might. There will be no denying they're a danger team in 2019 if they get up.