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Knights facing Roosters litmus test

Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett knows what it takes to win a NRL premiership, and by late Sunday afternoon he hopes to know if his Knights side has those qualities.
Knights facing Roosters litmus test
by AAP

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, July 27 AAP - Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett knows what it takes to win a NRL premiership, and by late Sunday afternoon he hopes to know if his Knights side has those qualities.

Having surged to fifth on the ladder on the back of three straight wins, the Knights have been discussed as a potential title darkhorse - with a squad boasting a healthy combination of class and experience.

But Newcastle are yet to prove they can match it with the big boys, having lost all three games they've played against the top four sides so far this year, which makes Sunday's Hunter Stadium clash against the second-placed Sydney Roosters the ultimate test of how far they really have come.

"They're second in this competition and they deserve that, that's to their credit," Bennett said of the Roosters.

"So we're looking forward to playing them to see where we're really at now."

The Knights were blown off the park 32-0 by Manly in round two, but were right in the contest in losses to South Sydney and Melbourne.

In fact the 16-14 loss to the Storm has proved something of a turning point, the Knights unbeaten since the round 14 defeat.

"We stacked up pretty well against Melbourne a month ago - if we can repeat that effort I'll be pleased with that," Bennett said.

"Maybe the bounce of the ball will go our way this time, it didn't in Melbourne but we played great ... it's been a bit of a catalyst for what we've done the last three weeks."

The Knights will be without Kade Snowden after he copped a two-week suspension for running with a raised knee, the blow to the forwards hardly what Bennett would have wanted against a Roosters pack boosted by the return of Sonny Bill Williams.

David Fa'alogo will come into the starting line-up in place of Snowden.

The trip to what Knights officials hope will be a sold-out Hunter Stadium will be the Roosters' last clash against a top eight side before the final round meeting with ladder-leaders South Sydney.


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