New Zealand Warriors Vs Newcastle Knights
Mt Smart Stadium
5 March 2017, 2pm (AEDST)
Well, yesterday was a reminder that it’s round 1 and we shouldn’t be going large until round 3-4 once we see what teams are producing. But let’s not get despondent and let’s have a look at this game.
Everything on paper is Screaming for a New Zealand Warriors (NZ) win over the Newcastle Knights (NEW), who only managed the one win last season. But as we have seen already this round, let’s not buy to much into some of the hype of last years teams efforts. In saying this, let’s look at these teams now.
NZ Warriors on paper have arguably the best spine in the competition, with R.T.Sheck (RTS), S. Johnson(SJ), I. Luke and when he’s cleared to play K. Foran. However in this game the no.6 is A. Hingano, who has 4 games to his name. The class of this NZ spine should allow this young no.6 pick to pick and chose his time to play his role, with the majority of ball expected to go to SJ and RTS. RTS was also named as captain and is expected to come back from his season ending injury with a vengeance. SJ was injured in the back end of season 2016, which then saw the NZ team fail to make the finals series. Once again look for him to use his class to guide NZ to their first win in round one since 2009. I. Luke possibly played his worst year of footy ever in his 230 game career, with the off season now behind him “good things” have been said about his focus this year to help NZ really live up to the hype around this team.
The exciting aspect for us is the mixture of Experience and Young players in this forward pack. Hoffman’s and Mannering’s work ethic should rub off on these young men and really help guide NZ to a finals spot this year. This game we see a lot of big men starting and coming off the bench which will make it tough for NEW, as long as the NZ players don’t lose their focus and drift out of the game. A late inclusion could be B. Thompson, if he’s included, we really struggle to see how NEW can stay with them.
Like the St George Dragons, the NEW Knights have been written off this year already. NEW can take inspiration from the Dragons performance yesterday and give them some more self belief in their systems. However on paper it’s a team that is growing, but still looks off the pace. Their spine has the rookie D. Phythain (4 games) at full back, B. Lamb (6 games) at five eight, experienced T. Hodkinson (163 games) and D. Levi (44 games) compared to NZ combined Spine games of 481 and you can get a feel why NZ are such huge favourites. However it’s not all Doom and gloom for Knights fans, Gagai (Qld Rep), N. Ross showed massive improvement last year and the Mata’utia brothers played some great footy. They have bought smartly as well with J. Buhrer, K. Sio and J. Starling all ready to go and their presence will help this young team out to no end.
How we see the game going, is a NZ win. NZ to score early points and hold off the Knights gallant efforts. The line is interesting, where NZ have covered this 3/5 times (22,20,16 points) in their last 5 meetings at MT Smart, with NZ winning by a margin of 4 and NEW only victory was by 5 points, RD20, 2012, in their last 5 travels to NZ. In a RD 1 clash, with a large line add in some unknown performances and we are staying away.
However we do like:
10 minute market – Home Team Total Points
New Zealand OVER +0.5 @ $1.90 (Bet365)
Early points for us looks the goods, with this line all we need is a penalty or a quick try to settle their nerves. Expecting RTS, SJ and Luke to come out firing and watch their backs Cash in on their desire to win the opening game for their 2017 premiership campaign.