The Knights launched their campaign with wins over the Roosters and Tigers before hitting the skids with seven straight losses while Gold Coast won two of their first four and pushed Parramatta and Canberra in the other two.
As they head into round 16, the Titans sit last, with a second wooden spoon in four years staring them in the face. The Knights are 12th, three wins outside the eight, but they can take some comfort in the fact their run home includes games against the Bulldogs, Tigers and the Titans again in round 24.
To say this is a must-win match for both sides would be a massive understatement and with so much at stake, this shapes as a gripping struggle in front of the loyal Newcastle faithful.
Knights: Daniel Saifiti (knee) is a late inclusion on the bench after he got through a final training session on Thursday with Pasami Saulo omitted. Bradman Best (elbow) won't play after he was cut from the extended squad. Star fullback Kalyn Ponga (concussion) was ruled out following Origin II with his place is taken by Tex Hoy. Lachlan Fitzgibbon and Jake Clifford remain in the reserves.
Titans: Superstar David Fifita (knee) will return via the bench for his first game since round 12. Veteran Kevin Proctor (biceps) dropped off the extended bench on Thursday but Corey Thompson (knee) remains in the reserves. Captain Tino Fa'asuamaleaui is set to back up from Origin while Moeaki Fotuaika is good to go after representing Tonga on Saturday.
David Klemmer v Isaac Liu: With 403 games of experience between them, Klemmer and Liu have huge roles to play in trying to turn around the fortunes of their clubs. Klemmer has been immense for the Knights, churning out 144 metres per game and slipping 22 offloads in his 10 matches. Two-time premiership winner Liu's value to the Titans goes far beyond his 99 run metres and 27 tackles per match, as he imparts the knowledge acquired over 217 games at the elite level. No quarter will be asked or given as two of the game's true warriors leave it all on the park in search of victory.
The Knights have won just one of six matches on their home patch this season, taking care of Wests Tigers 26-4 back in round two. Since then they have lost to Manly, Parramatta, Melbourne, Brisbane and Penrith at McDonald Jones Stadium, conceding 197 points and scoring just 28. Last year the Knights were 5-4 at home before the competition was transferred to Queensland due to COVID. The Titans are 1-8 away from Cbus Super Stadium in 2022.