Despite their lowly position on the NRL ladder, the Wests Tigers will still provide the Newcastle Knights with a stern test this weekend.
That’s the opinion of hometown playmaker Mitchell Pearce, as he prepares to play his 300th match in Sunday afternoon’s round three showdown at McDonald Jones Stadium on 28 March.
While his personal milestone has captured most of the media attention over the past few days, the 31-year-old insists a victory is the Knights’ main priority.
“A lot of people have already written off the Tigers, after their losses to the Canberra Raiders (30-12) and Sydney Roosters (40-6) to start the season,” Pearce said.
“But, they’ll be determined to turn that form around.
“These days, every game is hard.
“And, Wests are always a tough opponent, no matter where they sit on the ladder.
“However, you just have to worry about your own backyard.
“We need to keep improving – to be where we want to be – and maintain what we’re doing.”
So far, the Knights are flying high in 2021.
The Newcastle boys blitzed the Canterbury Bulldogs 32-16 and followed up to beat the New Zealand Warriors 20-16 at Central Coast Stadium last Friday night to remain undefeated.
What made the win even more impressive was the fact Kalyn Ponga, Blake Green and Lachlan Fitzgibbon watched the encounter from the sideline.
Add to that, the bit of Bradman Best brilliance five minutes from full-time.
“It was a tough game of footy,” Pearce said.
“There weren’t many stoppages, we didn’t get many six-agains during the second half.
“It was just an arm-wrestle.
“Bradman coming up with that play to get us out of trouble [at the end] was massive.
“I think we’ve grown a lot from that game, especially with the amount of defence we had to do compared to them.”
Date: Sunday 28 March
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium
NSW Cup: 1.45pm
Round three line-ups:
Newcastle Knights –
1. Tex Hoy, 2. Starford Toa, 3. Enari Tuala, 4. Bradman Best, 5. Hymel Hunt, 6. Kurt Mann, 7. Mitchell Pearce, 8. David Klemmer, 9. Jayden Brailey (C), 10. Daniel Saifiti (C), 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Mitch Barnett, 13. Connor Watson. Interchange: 14. Sauaso Sue, 15. Jacob Saifiti, 16. Josh King, 17. Brodie Jones. Extended Bench: 18. Gehamat Shibasaki, 19. Pasami Saulo, 20. Dom Young, 21. Simi Sasagi
Wests Tigers –
1. Daine Laurie, 2. David Nofoaluma, 3. Tommy Talau, 4. James Roberts, 5. AJ Kepaoa, 6. Adam Doueihi, 7. Luke Brooks, 8. Zane Musgrove, 9. Jacob Liddle, 10. James Tamou (C), 11. Luciano Leilua, 12. Luke Garner, 13. Alex Twal. Interchange: 14. Joe Ofahengaue, 15. Thomas Mikaele, 16. Stefano Utoikamanu, 17. Moses Mbye. Extended bench: 18. Michael Chee Kam, 19. Joseph Leilua, 20. Russell Packer, 21. Alex Seyfarth