Eels clash 'not do or die' for Knights - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels clash 'not do or die' for Knights

By Steve Jancetic 03/08/2008 06:21:18 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle coach Brian Smith has learnt a thing or two in his 499 games of NRL football, which is exactly why the veteran mentor won't be taking a "win at all costs" attitude into Monday night's tussle with Parramatta.

Sure, the game will mark a significant personal milestone, with Smith joining Tim Sheens and Wayne Bennett as the only men to have reached the 500 games plateau.

And sure, the win of 14 points or more over the Eels could lift the Knights into the top eight.

But experience, and simple mathematics, has taught Smith that a win guarantees nothing.

"It won't be over for either club obviously because mathematically you're still a chance of getting there," Smith said.

"We're both in the same situation, we're in the same situation we were last week before we played Souths and nothing's going to change with a win this weekend, it's just that a loss will make it very, very difficult."

But some have built up this game as make or break with a win leaving them tied on 22 competition points with four other sides placed eighth to twelfth.

The loser will be two points further back and needing to win an unlikely four of their last five games to make the finals.

The desperation stakes have sparked talk that Parramatta coach Michael Hagan would be rushing back star five-eighth Feleti Mateo from a knee injury, but Eels officials have denied there would be any late changes to the 17 selected on Tuesday.

Smith remains unconvinced.

The Knights received a welcome boost on the injury front with Steve Simpson, who has played just seven games this year, passing a fitness test on his rolled ankle on Saturday.

"He's been saying all week that he'd be okay," Smith said.

"He's a man of few words but his track record and physical presence on the field is a huge boost for everybody."

Jarrod Mullen and Scott Dureau have been reunited in the halves following a hip injury to Chris Bailey, the Manly-bound utility now in danger of having played his last game for the club with the initial prognosis being at least five weeks on the sidelines.

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