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NRL: Warriors target Newcastle double

New Zealand Warriors have been the surprise package of the 2023 NRL season and they will be out to make it five wins from six when they play Newcastle on Easter Sunday.

The Warriors were tipped to be wooden spoon contenders before the campaign began, but they have defied the doubters to take the NRL by storm.

There is still a long way to go but they have given themselves a chance of playing finals, and another victory over the Knights in the Hunter will keep them flying high.

In the early kick-off on Sunday two sides that cannot be separated go head-to-head on the Gold Coast when the Titans entertain the Dragons.

Both teams sit 2-2 for the season so far and are just outside of the top eight. It has been a solid start and both will be fighting hard to get that third win.

The NRL has been great for entertainment value so far this season and we could be in for another couple of thrilling games here. Let’s take a closer look at the two match-ups.

What:Gold Coast Titans v St George Illawarra Dragons
Where:Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast
When:17:05 (AEST) Sunday 9th April 2023
How to watch:Channel 9, Kayo, Foxtel 
Odds:Titans 1.82, Dragons 2.00

The jury was out on both the Titans and the Dragons heading into the new season so both will be pleased with the starts they have made.

They have already played each other this season with the Dragons winning 32-18 on home soil in round two, so the Titans will be out for revenge.

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The Dragons came in for some heavy criticism following heavy defeats against the Broncos and Sharks, but they bounced back well with a 38-12 win over the Dolphins last week.

Now they have to raise their game again when they face a Titans side that have only played one game on home soil this season. That was a 38-34 win over Melbourne Storm two weeks ago and they look a different side compared to 2022. 

Titans coach Justin Holbrook will be forced into a couple of changes as AJ Brimson and Kieran Foran are ruled out with hamstring and calf injuries respectively.

However the replacements are top notch with Jayden Campell starting for the first time at fullback, while Toby Sexton will also make his first appearance of 2023 when replacing Foran in the halves.

The Dragons will once again be without injured playmaker Sean O’Sullivan as coach Anthony Griffin sticks with the same side that beat the Dolphins.

What:Newcastle Knights v New Zealand Warriors
Where:McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
When:19:15 (AEST) Sunday 9th April 2023
How to watch:Kayo, Foxtel
Odds:Knights 1.95, Warriors 1.87

The Warriors have got the season off to a flying start and the manner of their comeback win over the Sharks last weekend showed they have got the stomach for the fight.

That victory, combined with a gruelling start to the season, that included plenty of travel, resulted in coach Andrew Webster opting to rest a host of players in training this week.

He will be hoping his players are now rested and ready to go again when they make the trip to Newcastle for another tough away day. The Warriors began the season with a 20-12 win over the Knights and are now out to complete a double. 

The Warriors will be boosted by the return of Te Maire Martin who has recovered from concussion, but captain Tohu Harris is said to be 50-50 as he battles with a knee injury.

Newcastle have also shown signs of improvements on last season. They were involved in a thrilling 32-32 draw with Manly last week when extra time could not separate them.

Their form at McDonald Jones Stadium has been patchy at times and the Dolphins have already beaten them there this season. They bounced back to beat the Raiders the week after but this could be their biggest test yet.

Newcastle remain without superstar Kalyn Ponga but coach Adam O’Brien is able to name the same side that drew with the Sea Eagles.

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