Forget NRL ladder position, Newcastle will have six years of heartbreak to overcome when they take on bottom-placed Canterbury.
Although the Knights are sitting inside the top four, they have cause for concern against a tough Bulldogs side who have enjoyed more than a few upsets in recent history.
The Bulldogs have their best winning record against any team of the past six years against Newcastle, winning seven of their past eight games since 2014 – the one exception coming in round nine last season.
In round 17 last year, the Bulldogs were second last on the ladder but overcame a 6-0 halftime deficit to upset the seventh-placed Knights 20-16.
The loss sent 17,757 fans at McDonald Jones Stadium home in utter disappointment.
And after a loss to Parramatta a fortnight ago at home, coach Adam O’Brien wants to give fans something to cheer about for the first time since round one.
A narrow win over South Sydney at Bankwest Stadium last week was warning enough for the side to find their consistency.
“We’ve got no reason to be complacent, we didn’t finish off a performance last week and it’s been a while since we put back-to-back performances together so there’s absolutely no reason to be complacent,” he said.
“We’re coming up against a good footy team, they fight hard and they probably deserved to win last week, to be honest.
“They’ve got a real work ethic and toughness and grit about them and that’s what we pride ourselves on so it should be a good match-up.”
The Bulldogs lost to St George Illawarra last week on the bell.
And while it was tough to swallow, interim coach Steve Georgallis said it’s part of a learning curve for his spine to close out games.
“It’s more about game management and I’ve talked about that with the spine about how to manage a game when you’re in front because the other team is obviously trying to get you, and being smarter about that,” he said.
“I know it looks like we threw the game away but we were competitive for the 70 minutes and a little bit of fatigue and poor decisions cost us.”
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Since 2014, the Bulldogs have won seven of eight games against the Knights. The 87.5 per cent win record is the Bulldogs’ best in this period against any other side
* Since 2012, the Bulldogs have won six of seven games including five straight against the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium. Newcastle’s only win came in Rd 10, 2013 (44-8)
*Both sides are coming off similar efforts ilast round. The Knights scored the first 20 points against the Rabbitohs and held on for a tight win. The Bulldogs scored 22-consecutive points against the Dragons but couldn’t hold on.