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The one change that solves two Knights problems


The Newcastle Knights have lost six games in a row – could moving Kalyn Ponga (back) to the halves be an answer to their problems?

The Newcastle Knights are a club in crisis and after six losses in a row, desperate times call for desperate measures.

The best player at the Knights is Kalyn Ponga and for the team to start winning, he needs to get his hands on the ball as much as possible.

Ponga is a class player and has a brilliant running game. He looks dangerous with the ball-in-hand when running at defenders and his footwork leaves defenders clutching at thin air.

Currently at the Knights he is under-used by the team, as the halves unsuccessfully try to steer the team around with Ponga disconnected out the back. 

Knights five-eighth Jake Clifford is out of form and was hooked in the second half in last week’s 48-point loss to the Melbourne Storm.

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A stint in the NSW Cup could be just what Clifford needs to re-discover his form and work on his attacking game.

Halfback Adam Clune is playing through pain with a knee injury and is feeling the pressure as the player brought in to replace veteran Mitchell Pearce.

In the last five games, the Knights have only scored four tries and have failed to score a single four-pointer in their last two games.

The alarming statistics show that the Knights are struggling in attack and lack direction in the halves; something must change for the side to start winning.

The Knights are in the middle of an injury crisis which could leave coach Adam O’Brien no choice but to stick to the same 17 from last week.

However, if O’Brien was to bring Ponga into the halves, there would be options to replace him at fullback.

Tex Hoy could play at fullback, while young gun Bailey Hodgson could also play in the position.

Hoy could also be an option for the Knights in the halves with Ponga if O’Brien was to drop Clune and Clifford.

Unfortunately, Knights utility Kurt Mann is still out injured, having started the year as a ball-playing lock that gives Newcastle some extra potency in attack.

Anthony Milford is due back from his suspension in a few weeks which could give the Knights another option at fullback or in the halves.

With the Knights sitting last on the NRL competition ladder and with only two wins from eight games, something must change quickly for the side to get back to winning ways.

Bringing captain and star player Ponga into the halves where he can run with the ball, set up plays and use his brilliant attacking game to great effect would be a good place to start.

Joel Martelli
Joel Martelli
The only thing that Joel Martelli loves more than football (seriously, we wouldn't be surprised if he has a Wollongong Wolves tattoo) is writing about all things sports. With a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies Degree specialising in Journalism, he spends his days uncovering breaking athlete news stories and diving deep into play-by-play strategies. We're glad that he's put his passion to the pages of Only Sports as one of our dedicated sports writers.

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