Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Photo by Knights Media
In 2020, the Newcastle Knights finally broke their seven-year finals drought, but off-field issues and a stronger competition has fans wondering whether or not they can do it again this year.
The pressure is Newcastle’s top stars, and they will have to perform in these five games especially.
ROUND 2 – NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS
Several new signings display the Warriors’ ambition, not to mention the acquisition of head coach Nathan Brown, who will be coaching against his former side in this one.
His exit from Newcastle was an ugly one; however, when Brown originally took over at the Knights they were easily the worst team in the competition but were soon on the rise as a result of Brown’s impeccable recruiting.
If not for Nathan Brown, the Knights would not be anywhere near where they are today, and they will be looking to get one over their old coach.
ROUND 5 – GOLD COAST TITANS
While the Knights are a side that some believe are destined to drop out of the top eight, the Titans are favourites to take their place.
Newcastle will be determined to get a win in this fixture to silence a few doubters and get revenge for what happened the last time they faced off.
In the final round of the 2020 NRL season, the Knights were riding high as they prepared for a finals campaign.
They were tipped to beat a Titans side that had found some late-season form but were blown off of the park instead, losing the game 36-6 and their momentum in the process.
TEAM LIST TUESDAY | Our team to face the Goannas has dropped 👊
— Newcastle Knights (@NRLKnights) February 16, 2021
ROUND 8 – SYDNEY ROOSTERS
Mitchell Pearce put pen to paper with the Newcastle Knights for the first time in late 2017, and ever since, their fixtures with the Sydney Roosters have been fiery.
Since Newcastle’s famous underdog victory against the defending premier Roosters in early 2019, they have been handled by the Chooks quite easily.
Later on, in 2019, Sydney exacted their revenge with a 48-10 win and backed that up with a 42-12 win in 2020.
The Knights and Pearce, in particular, will be looking to put in a more respectable performance against the Roosters this time.
ROUND 12 – MANLY WARRINGAH SEA EAGLES
Following the 1997 ARL Grand Final, the Knights and Sea Eagles have been fierce rivals, with replays of that fateful game on show whenever they are set to meet.
Recent matchups between the clubs have lived up to the hype as well, with the past two games between Newcastle and Manly being decided by two points.
Hopefully, we are set for another tight encounter when this fixture comes around.
ROUND 14 – SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS
Newcastle escaped with a victory in a game of the year contender when they faced South Sydney in the 2020 regular season; however, it is the last time they versed each other that will be the catalyst for an interesting matchup in 2021.
The Rabbitohs brought the Knights’ fairytale finals campaign to a quick and brutal end, beating the boys from the Hunter Valley 46-20.
Revenge will be on Newcastle’s mind the next time they take the field against the Bunnies, and a win against a top-four favourite could be huge for the Knights’ finals ambitions.