The Newcastle Knights are off the mark in season 2012 and will be looking for their first win at Hunter Stadium this Friday night against the Brisbane Broncos.
In the two premiership games this season the Knights defence has no doubt been a standout. Yes, there were a few moments against Cronulla last Sunday, but overall their defensive effort, especially on their own try line, was brilliant.
The same great defence was on show a fortnight earlier against a Dragons side that was on their game for the season opener.
This Friday night at Hunter Stadium we will see the youthful and very skilful Brisbane Broncos against a Knights side full of attacking power out wide matched with a re-invented defensive forward pack.
Since the Johns era, Newcastle’s attitude has been that if you score three tries we will score five. That attitude may still be there, but since Wayne Bennett has taken over, a more steely defensive line has been presented by the red and blue.
It is only early days in the 2012 NRL season, but the question of how far the Knights defence has come could be answered on Friday night.
The loss of captain Kurt Gidley will no doubt hamper the Knights attack, but Bennett has proved over the years that defence is the key to success. Danny Buderus improved 100 percent in Round 2 against the Sharks, as did Kade Snowden and Adam Cuthbertson.
The Knights will have to be on their game to contain Broncos young guns Josh Hoffman, Jack Read, Josh McGuire and Corey Norman – and don’t forget Justin Hodges, who has shown good form in his opening two games this season.
A positive for the Knights is that Brisbane can be vulnerable up the middle; Cowboys pair Thurston and Bowen found them out a number of times last week. Buderus is the master of picking when to run from dummy half, so look out for him linking up with Mullen and Boyd when the Broncos forwards get tired.
It is only Round 3 but already this game could be a pivotal moment for the Knights season. A win without skipper Gidley would give the boys a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.
In saying that, a loss will not be the end of the world, as there is still a lot of footy to be played between now and the first weekend in October.