Newcastle are not only battling to avoid the NRL wooden spoon but also the second biggest fall from grace in the history of the code.
The Knights are in line to become just the second side in the history of top-flight Australian rugby league to go from top spot after four or more rounds to finishing with the wooden spoon.
Two other sides have done it in the modern era – Canterbury of 2002 and Melbourne of 2010 – but both were disqualified due to salary cap breaches.
According to Fox Sports Stats, the only other side to have undergone such a dramatic slide is the South Sydney team of 1975, the team’s performance proved to be the death knell for the coaching career of the great Clive Churchill.
That Rabbitohs team led the NSWRL competition after five rounds but then capitulated, prompting Churchill to stand down halfway through the year, going on to collect the wooden spoon.
Since winning their first four and jumping to an early competition lead, the Knights have been hapless, losing 11 of their last 12 including their last six straight.
They are last on 14 points and unless they can lift over the next eight rounds, they will finish with an unwanted piece of history as well as the wooden spoon.
“It’s just our completions, you can’t win games without the ball, and then defending on the back of that,” Knights centre Dane Gagai said when asked about their problems.
“We’ve really been focussing on defence this week and it’s going to be a key for us (against the Gold Coast).
“We’ve got to make sure that if we do make an error, we don’t leak points on the back of it.”
Collecting the spoon would be enough of a dishonour for the proud Knights who have only once finished last, in 2005.
Since round 13 they have conceded 154 points – an average of more than 39, with Gold Coast the next worst with 25.6 per game.
The Knights will welcome back second-rower Beau Scott from suspension and are approaching full strength while Chris Houston (finger) could be a late inclusion.
Greg Bird will return for the Titans from an eight-week suspension for a dangerous throw on Jason Nightingale during the one-off Trans-Tasman Test.
They will take a risk on Nate Myles who is battling a hand injury while halfback Kane Elgey is in line for an early return from an ankle problem.
STATS THAT MATTER
* A win in this match would see the Titans win consecutive matches at Newcastle for the first time.
* The Knights have conceded 30 or more points in each of their past three matches at Hunter Stadium for the first time ever.
* The Titans have missed the most tackles this season, an average of 32.7 per game.