Uate to spearhead Knights' Storm encounter - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Uate to spearhead Knights' Storm encounter

By Greg Danvers and Ben Horne 08/09/2011 06:14:23 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle flyer Akuila Uate will spearhead an underrated Knights attack against the might of NRL minor premiers Melbourne on Sunday.

The Knights are preparing to throw everything at the Storm in the must-win final, and prove their attack is amongst the most lethal in the competition.

While Melbourne would be fancied as the more dangerous outfit with ball in hand, somewhat surprisingly it's Newcastle who lead a couple of the NRL's key attacking stats.

Rick Stone's side lead the league for most line breaks per match (equal with Wests Tigers on 4.9), and most tackle breaks (41).

NSW Blues stars Uate and Kurt Gidley have also helped the Knights to second behind St George Illawarra on the list of most metres gained on average per match (1396.3).

The combination between Uate and former Test centre Adam MacDougall on the Knights' right-side has been damaging.

Fullback Gidley is considered one of the NRL's most dangerous players, while Jarrod Mullen (NSW), Junior Sa'u (NZ) and James McManus (NSW) are also representative players.

"The Knights are probably making more line breaks than any other team in the competition so we are going (there) to attack," declared coach Stone.

"Obviously we need to improve defensively for 80 minutes."

Thrilling winger Uate scored four tries in the Knights 40-24 annihilation of the Rabbitohs last Friday, which secured their finals berth.

On Tuesday night Uate won his second-straight Dally M winger of the year award, to strengthen his claim to being the best flankman in rugby league.

Gidley said Uate has become a genuine powerhouse and will play a major role in Newcastle's chances against Melbourne.

"He's got to be in the top two wingers in the comp and I don't think I'm being biased there," Gidley told AAP.

"I think his carries are so strong and I know he's feared by other players when they're trying to make a one on one tackle with him, that's for sure.

"He's such an exciting player Aku, any time he touches the ball.

"You don't see many wingers taking a play one off the kick off and he only knows one way and that's 100 mile an hour."

Brisbane and Australian skipper Darren Lockyer last month said Uate wouldn't look out of place in a Kangaroos jumper. His recent form suggests he must be a near certainty for the Australian Four Nations side at season's end.

Uate was modest when talking about his Dally M achievement, and is more concerned with how to handle Melbourne's Billy Slater and Cameron Smith.

"It's all a bit of old news for me now," Uate said.

"The Dally M awards are now finished ... I just want to concentrate on Melbourne.

"If we can control those two (Slater and Smith) we can go alright on Sunday."

Newcastle have lost 10 out of 12 matches to top eight teams this year, and were thumped 42-12 by the Storm at AAMI Park in late April.

"We didn't really talk much about that one, that's history," said Uate.

Sa'u passed a gruelling fitness test on Thursday, and will play.

"He's an important part of our team," said Stone.

"To have our two first-choice centres for the semi finals is ideal."

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