The Warriors were my dark horse pick at the start of the season, and despite a slow start they are coming good at the right time. On Saturday they will have to prove their worth against a Newcastle Knights team that looks like it will make it into the finals. A win here by the Knights will show the rest of the 8 they mean business.
This is game is played at 7:30 NZ time, which means it will be the first of the 3 Saturday matches. NZ time means NZ playing field as the Knights travel east to play at Mt Smart Stadium. There have been 14 matches played between these 2 at Mt Smart, and surprisingly the Knights hold the upper hand with 7 wins to 6 and 1 draw. The last 4 in a row have gone to the Warriors, be it home or away, so can the Knights bounce back against recent defeats against the Warriors?
The Warriors had a chance to make it 5 in a row last week but were just pipped by a Peter Wallace field goal in the dying minutes. It’s not the First time that Wallace has finished the opposition off with his seemingly accurate drop kicking abilities. Still, it was always going to be a hard task for the Warriors to travel to Brisbane and beat them in their second last home match of the year, a match that could have been Lockyer’s second last at Suncor ever.
So are the Warriors the real deal in 2011? It’s hard to tell. They won 5 in a row earlier in the season; all bar 1 of these were against teams that will more than likely finish outside the 8. In the recent run of 4 in a row they have not beaten 1 top 8 team. In all of 2011 they have only beaten 2 top 8 teams; The first being the Storm on the ANZAC day match and the other, well the other was the Knights in round 10 by 25-16.
So the Knights come into this match fully aware that the Warriors struggle to beat any teams inside the 8. They have to look in their own back yard first though. They too have only managed to beat 2 teams in the top 8. Their wins came against the Cowboys and the Dragons. These 2 little statistics pretty much prove the fact that both of these teams are there just to make the 8, they will have little impact at the end of the season.
So what advantage do the Knights hold over the Warriors in this one? Well they have won 3 in a row and are looking to make it a fourth. Not only that, their average winning margin for the last 3 weeks has been the highest of any team at 26.6 Points. That is some amazing stats.
Both of these teams have been pretenders all season with woeful records against teams in the top 8. What gets my vote here is the recent form of the Knights. They have been winning by massive amounts, albeit against terrible opposition. But if they can continue this run there is no reason why they can’t be a threat in the finals. Knights 13+
The Knights are massive outsiders here and are paying $2.80, and that just for the H2H. If you are brave enough the 13+ is paying a ridiculous