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20 Sep 2017 1:38
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Knights can make 2018 NRL finals: Old Boys

    Newcastle will host their traditional Old Boys Day in their final-round NRL clash with defending premiers Cronulla.

    - article from www.rugbyleague.co.nz

    Andrew Johns
    Andrew Johns

    Picking up NRL wooden spoons on Old Boys Day is getting kinda old.

    But Newcastle legends believe it will be the last piece of cutlery the club claims for a long time and that next year's traditional reunion becomes a celebration instead.

    A month after Andrew Johns had predicted the club could play finals next year, former teammates Billy Peden and Mark Hughes also believe good times are around the corner.

    "I certainly think a finals berth is not beyond the reach of our team next year," Peden told AAP ahead of Sunday's final-round clash with Cronulla.

    "I'd like to say it's more likely than not with the addition of a couple of good players and the growth that's come within the squad we have at the moment."

    Hughes is also convinced the recruitment of Kalyn Ponga, Aidan Guerra, Connor Watson, Herman Ese'ese and Tautau Moga has fast-tracked their rebuild.

    He says they should at least be in contention.

    "If we're not in and around that top eight to 10 teams, we'd be disappointed. I really think it looks good for the club next year," he said.

    The pair also backed the club to upset the defending premiers, who have nothing to gain other than two competition points and momentum going into week one of the finals series.

    Parramatta's win on Friday night dashed the Sharks' top-four hopes, but ensured they would host an elimination final no matter the result.

    The Knights' most-recent Old Boys Day win was over St George Illawarra in 2014, which followed a 54-6 thrashing of Parramatta in 2013 and a 35-0 hammering of Penrith in 2009.

    "There's been some really good upset wins on that day, absolutely. We've had some pretty good Old Boys days over the years," Hughes said.

    Peden said he could always sense the team would rise for the occasion.

    "We were always very proud to be selected on Old Boys Day. We felt we could prove ourselves to the boys that set the culture of the club and gave the red and blue jumper what it was," he said.

    Sharks centre Jack Bird has again been ruled out with a shoulder issue, while Wade Graham is set to play despite suffering a bad leg injury last week.

    STATS THAT MATTER:

    * Cronulla are aiming for their sixth-straight win over the Knights for the first time

    * In the last meeting in Newcastle, the Knights lost 62-0 - their worst defeat at home

    * Cronulla have the worst completion rate (73.8 per cent), make the most errors (11.8 per game) and are conceding the second-most penalties (7.1 per game)


    NZN




    © 2017 NZN, NZCity


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