Newcastle are possibly the hardest team to predict in 2022 with their halves quandary, Kalyn Ponga’s fluctuations and their inconsistency over the past two seasons adding up to a side whose results could vary wildly.
With five rounds left, that means there’s five games left for Newcastle.
Before I run the gauntlet on their final five, I’ll share with you some statistics on their first 15 matches of this year and last year.
2020: nine wins, five losses and a draw
2019: eight wins and seven losses
2020: 57 scored and 38 conceded
2019: 50 scored and 44 conceded
2020: 317 scored and 232 conceded
2019: 321 scored and 266 conceded
With 20 games in the redrawn season overall including the first two rounds prior to lockdown, let’s take a look at how Newcastle went after 20 games last year.
In 2019, their win/loss record was eight wins and 12 losses, they scored 63 tries and conceded 70, and scored 397 points and conceded 416.
Our defence and offence has improved (more tries and less points due to goal kicking) but still shows the effort is there. Our last three wins at home in successive weeks saw us score 82 points and concede only 28.
Enough of the statistics comparison, let’s run that gauntlet of the final five.
• Round 16 – Saturday 29 August against the Warriors at Scully Park
• Round 17 – Friday 4 September against Cronulla at Marathon
• Round 18 – Saturday 12 September against the Roosters at the SCG
• Round 19 – Sunday 20 September against St George Illawarra at Marathon
• Round 20 – Friday 25 September against Gold Coast at Cbus Super Stadium
Theoretically, our toughest test will be against the Roosters but I disagree. The Roosters are no doubt a destructive team on their best day but each test will be just as tough as the one prior and the one next in line.
The back end of last year saw Newcastle become complacent and that led to their downfall. This year with the new resiliency and attitude I’ve seen, we won’t make the same mistake again.
I stand by saying all those games will be tough tests but I strongly believe they’re all winnable games. The Warriors will be ready to take charge and their come-from-behind victory against Canterbury does indicate they’re not willing to go down without a fight.
Do we have the top-eight spot locked up? No. At least two more wins will see us in finals footy once again.