Newcastle Knights NYC coach Michael Crawley believes his side's confidence has been boosted significantly in the wake of their impressive 32-26 trial victory over the Canberra Raiders at Aubrey Keech Reserve in Sydney on Sunday.
In a highly entertaining match against a Raiders side who finished minor premiers last season, the Knights held off a fast-finishing Green Machine outfit to claim a hard fought win.
Crawley was happy with the result and says his team can take plenty of positives from their performance against one of the competition's leading teams.
Jaelen Feeney, Jah Pakau, Tuiala Togitasi, Sione Mata’utia, Chance Peni all impressed for the Knights.
"Certainly the boys got a lot of confidence out of the game," Crawley enthuses.
"It was a happy bus on the way home. I think it's good for them to see that a couple of things that we worked made a bit of a difference in the game.
"We set our goal to work on a few little things and that worked well for us.
"Things like our support, running hard and that was pretty good for us.
"I thought our middle guys where very good for us. They were nice and strong and aggressive, which was good.
"Our fitness was also good, which certainly helped and the pre-season has been very good.
"So that gives them confidence moving forward."
Canberra dominated the opening exchanges of the of the match on the back of ill-discipline and errors from the Knights.
This enabled the Raiders to jump out to an 8-0 lead after eight minutes.
The Knights hit back with a try to winger Bryce Donovan, who showed impressive shed to finish off a slick backline movement.
Josh Birch nailed the sideline conversion to reduce the Raiders lead to 8-6.
Newcastle took the lead, 10-8, just minutes later when hooker Danny Levi showed great skill to score.
Levi took a quick tap and was too quick for the Canberra defence to barge over next to the uprights.
The Raiders regained the lead when they ran the ball on the last tackle.
They converted the try to take the lead 14-10 after 30 minutes.
Knights star recruit Feeney did it all himself from close range minutes later with some fancy footwork to put the Knights back in the lead 16-14 at halftime.
Newcastle maintained the rage in the second half with back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon scoring to extend the lead.
The Knights were well and truly on top and interchange half James De Saxe ensured it remained that way with a perfectly-timed pass for Josh King to score and make the score 26-14.
Donovan then bagged his second try, beating three defenders with ease to give Newcastle what seemed like a comfortable 32-14 advantage.
While the Knights were in control, it was the Raiders who scored two late tries to give the men in red and blue a late scare.
Newcastle remained calm though and held on for a hard fought win.