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Matt Hilder

For a side that didn't lose a single match at home last season, the Knights' loss to Mounties in round 2 this season was a result that cut the playing squad deep.  

Just ask coach Rick Stone, a bloke who has disappointing memories of his side's defence that day in a 46-10 defeat at Hunter Stadium.   

Stone says it was a result that left his side shattered, yet determined as ever to make amends at their next home game. 

And that's exactly what they did on Sunday, charging to an impressive 23-16 victory over last year's NSW Cup premiers Cronulla.

For Stone it was a significant win, because it showed his team has plenty of resolve within their ranks.   

"I think last time we played here at home we let ourselves down a bit with our attitude in defence," Stone concedes.

"But Sunday against Cronulla was a lot better and it needed to be, because it was tough conditions and we didn’t always get the bounce of the ball or the referees decisions.

"So there is some real character there that we are starting to build within the team. 

"I thought our effort was tremendous.

"We didn’t get the break with the penalties and obviously eight to two against made it tough for us, especially in the conditions.

"We probably didn’t attack as sharp as we would have liked, but our absolute effort scrambling for each other was really good."

The Knights are in fourth position after four rounds heading into a bye this weekend.

While Stone is happy with this result, he is more focused on the growth of his football team.  

He says the likes of Pat Mata'utia and Honeti Tuhu are continually improving and that's exciting moving forward. 

"Pat has been great for us," he beams.

"Coming up against a quality NRL player like Justin O’Neill, I thought he did a terrific job.

"Honeti was also fantastic at the back and had good positional play.

"I also thought Chris Houston’s defence on the left edge was strong, but I was really happy with all our 17 players.

"We got a little bit tired at the end and probably used a few too many interchanges, but the boys who finished off the game finished it off strong for us."

Stone was also pleased with the performance of veteran lock Matt Hilder, who slotted a field goal from 35 metres out late in the second half to seal the win.

"It was a cool head from Matty," he grins.

"The ball came to him to sort of out of the blue and he had a bit of time, so he took his time and he kicked the field goal real casual like.

"But it put us 13 points in front with about 10 minutes to go, so it was a good play and a smart play given the circumstances."

Stone hopes to see plenty more of those smart plays from his side in the coming weeks.

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