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NRL: Knights and Raiders ready to clash

The Finals action continues on Sunday evening with Newcastle Knights preparing to face the Canberra Raiders at McDonald Jones Stadium.

It’s a battle between the fifth-place Knights and a Raiders side that managed to scrape their way into eighth spot on the ladder at the end of the regular season.

For one of these sides, their 2023 NRL season will come to an end on Sunday night. Here’s a look at how these teams are looking heading into this clash in Newcastle.

WhatNewcastle Knights v Canberra Raiders
WhereMcDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle 
When16:05 (AEST) Sunday 10th September, 2023
How to watchChannel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
OddsNewcastle Knights 1.18, Canberra Raiders 5.00

Knights on the charge

The form team in the NRL at this moment, Newcastle will be full of confidence as they get ready to host Canberra this weekend.

After Round 17, the Knights found themselves down in 17th place on the ladder with no realistic hope of making the playoffs.

However, in a remarkable turnaround, Newcastle have since gone on a nine-game winning streak, which makes it understandable they are 1.18 favourites to come out on top in the 80 minutes on Sunday.  

The Knights have also received positive news ahead of the weekend, with fullback Kalyn Ponga (shoulder), halfback Jackson Hastings (ankle), utility Kurt Mann (sternum) and back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon (shoulder) all set to feature after recovering from their respective injuries.

Newcastle’s last finals game at home was all the way back in 2006 and they will be desperate to make the most of his opportunity, against a Canberra side that tailed off towards the end of the regular season.

Raiders seeking inspiration

Losing three of their last four games of the regular season, it’s hardly been the run-in the Raiders would have been hoping for head into the playoffs.

With a points difference of -137, many will be wondering how Canberra actually finished in the top eight, ahead of the likes of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Parramatta Eels.

The Raiders face a daunting task this weekend on the road, against a Knights side that are in a rich vein of form.

Canberra will have to do it without forward leaders Josh Papalii and Corey Horsburgh, while Seb Kris is suspended after his red card last time out.

Albert Hopoate and club icon Jarrod Croker are listed among the reserves for this weekend and may yet get a late call-up for Sunday’s showdown.

Considering the Raiders' poor form in contrast to Newcastle’s, the visitors are the expected underdogs at 5.00 to cause a major upset and win this weekend.    

Canberra have done it in the past and will be looking back at their shock victory over Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park in week one of the final back in 2019 as inspiration for their trip to the home of the Knights.

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