4.35pm AEDT, Saturday, March 7
Hunter Stadium, Newcastle
The Knights and the Warriors are both hoping to put disappointing 2014s behind them with a first-up win in 2015. Both teams have enjoyed relatively calm offseasons and are ready to fire fresh.
Sione Mata’utia has been the unlucky back to miss out with Sione Mata’utia getting the nod at right centre. Tariq Sims won’t debut for the Knights as he serves out a suspension. Jack Stockwell will play his first game for the club though. Kurt Gidley returns to fullback. The Warriors have a host of injuries to their outside backs meaning Solomone Kata will debut while Tuimoala Lolohea will play on the wing. Recruits Ryan Hoffman and Bodene Thompson will start in the backrow. Thomas Leuluai starts at rake in front of Nathan Friend, who will play off the bench.
Newcastle and New Zealand have played 32 times with the Knights winning 16 matches to the Warriors’ 15. The Warriors have dominated the rivalry in recent times though with 10 wins in the last 13 encounters. The last six at Newcastle though have been split evenly and the Knights won this corresponding clash last year with a 28-22 win. The last four clashes between the two sides have topped 40 points.
Newcastle played just one trial with the Knights downing the Raiders 26-4 after a fair showing at the Auckland Nines. The Warriors disappointed at the Nines as big favourites and lost a trial with a second-rate team to the Titans 22-12 before an 18-4 win over Penrith.
The centre battle in this one will be salivating with four attacking wizards playing in the midfield. Dane Gagai and Joey Leilua were 1,2 in tackle breaks for centres last season and are devastating runners while the Warriors’ pair of Konrad Hurrell and Solomone Kata have been two of the highest rated juniors in recent times with Hurrell bursting onto the NRL scene and Kata dominating the Auckland Nines. With neither set renowned for their defence, we should see plenty of attacking brilliance from this foursome.
Stats That Matter
The Warriors are a poor 11-25 (13-23 ATS) in Australia over the last three seasons, averaging a loss of 6.9 points. As a favourite in Australia, the Warriors are 6-9 ATS with a 10-5 over record. In day matches the Knights are 17-17 over since 2012 while the Warriors are 19-13 over. The Knights are 10-4 over in their last 14 home day games with an average of 43.4 points scored in said matches. The Knights have covered their last four and six of their last eight as a home underdog. Day games with Ashley Klein officiating are 15-6 over since 2012.
The Knights and the Warriors match up fairly evenly in this one with home field giving a slight push to Newcastle. The Knights also look to have a tougher forward pack and are more settled at outside back though the Warriors get a major edge in the halves and have more upside out wide. One factor for Newcastle is that they should play a lot happier this year and Kurt Gidley is at his best playing fullback. While the head-to-head isn’t easy to figure, the total is. This one is going over. The whistle-happy Ashley Klein is 15-6 over in day matches while both these teams have questionable defences and rack up big scores in day matches.
How It’s Shaping Up
Newcastle by 4
Over 41.5 ($1.91)
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2015 NRL Round 1 Betting Preview for Newcastle Knights v New Zealand Warriors thanks to William Hill Australia.
Newcastle Knights v New Zealand Warriors Betting Odds
Below we have 2015 NRL Round 1 comparison betting odds from leading Australian and International online sportsbooks for the game.