Knights facing date with destiny - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Knights facing date with destiny

By Steve Jancetic 30/08/2009 07:46:15 PM Comments (0)

They could finish anywhere from fourth to ninth, but rookie Newcastle coach Rick Stone says his squad is comfortable in the knowledge they will head to Canberra on Monday night with their NRL finals destiny in their own hands.

With the luxury of being able to sit back and see how all the other games played out over the weekend, the Knights have been left with the simple task of beating Canberra to ensure their slice of finals football.

Lose to the Raiders and they face a sudden-death encounter against Penrith at EnergyAustralia Stadium, with the winner confirming a top eight finish and the loser making an early start on Mad Monday celebrations.

"We're lucky enough to control our own destiny," Stone said.

"We're in the eight at the moment and with a positive performance and a win we'll be cemented into the eight for the year and then we'll worry about Penrith the week after.

"We're excited about going there, we're excited about getting close to playing the semi-finals if we get a win and we're going there with some confidence after the last two weeks."

While the Knights probably would not admit it, there would also be a strong desire to put the Raiders to the sword to improve their points differential.

Newcastle are currently 58 points behind Manly on points differential, and can jump ahead of the Sea Eagles if they make up that deficit or if the Knights win both their remaining matches and Manly go down to Gold Coast next week.

There is also the slight chance of a home final being up for grabs - with the Knights, Manly and Brisbane all some chance of sneaking up to fourth if Melbourne go down to the Warriors in Auckland next weekend.

That's too many ifs for Stone, who said he was wary of the Raiders who have proved in recent wins over St George Illawarra and Brisbane that they are a tough proposition at home.

"They've taken the Bulldogs and the Dragons and a couple of top teams to the wire," Stone said.

"Their win against the Dragons a couple of weeks ago was really impressive and it was a real semi-final intensity from the Raiders.

"We're expecting that again and we're preparing ourselves for that and we understand it's going to be a tough ask."

Interchange forward Cory Patterson remains in doubt with a hip complaint, with either he or one of Wes Naiqama or Marvin Karawana to drop off an extended bench.

NSW forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs had been hoping to return from a hamstring injury for the Raiders but is a non-starter after failing to train on Saturday.

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