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We're five rounds into the NRL season and six of the teams currently in the top eight failed to make the finals last season.  

There has been the rise of back-to-back wooden spooners Parramatta, the Gold Coast Titans are sitting on top of the table while big name clubs like South Sydney, the Roosters and Melbourne are all languishing in the bottom half of the ladder.  

Welcome to rugby league 2014 style, a topsy-turvy competition that even has Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett scratching his head.  

You see, Bennett is first to admit his Knights are yet to discover their mojo in 2014. He says too many penalties, poor ball control and not enough steel in defence is all contributing to the men in red-and-blue sitting in second-last position after five weeks.    

All these qualities were on display in the Club's disappointing 28-2 loss against North Queensland on Monday night and Bennett insists this must improve before he can get an accurate gauge on where his football team is placed.  

"Teams seem to have to get desperate to play well and we are probably in that category," Bennett said in the post-match press conference on Monday night.

"We had a pretty fair performance last week (against Cronulla), but we were desperate and coming here with a win behind us and the Cowboys lost three in a row and they played with a bit of desperation here tonight.

"As Kurt (Gidley) said, our first 13 minutes were perfect (against the Cowboys).

"In the first 13 minutes you couldn’t have asked for any more and then it just got worse as the night went on."

Asked if he expects the unpredictable nature of the NRL to continue, Bennett replied, "No, I’d probably say it will sort itself out in the next three or four weeks somewhere.

"It will settle down to know what we’ve really got and what we are playing.

"At the moment we are at our fifth game and we are probably playing at 50 to 60 per cent of our ability to be honest with you.

"We just haven’t been able to nail it, not consistently.

"Cronulla last week in the first half was good, the second half we stayed in defence but we didn’t finish that well.

"So I’m just not sure when it’s going to come for us and we are struggling to get it."

Bennett blamed too many mistakes as the key reason behind the loss to the Cowboys.

"Yeah of course (mistakes cost us)," he concedes.

"I’d love to be able to tell you why, but I can’t.

"Handling errors, penalties, try, double penalties and tries after the handling error.

"It just kills you, a bit like how we played in Melbourne actually."

Skipper Kurt Gidley was disappointed with the loss, pinpointing poor defence and lack of field possession as the major contributors to the 26-point defeat. 

"I thought we started really well with our attitude and the way that we carried the ball," Gidley says.

"But it was just the possession in the first half probably after 10 minutes.

"We didn’t see the ball after that and probably for the rest of the game.

"Now you can put that down to concentration or whatever it might be, but you’ve got to have a decent amount of possession.

"But we’ve got to have a look at our defence.

"Just defensively I’m pretty disappointed." 

Asked if the playing squad found it difficult to back-up after last weekend's emotion win over Cronulla in honour of injured team-mate Alex McKinnon, Gidley said it wasn't a factor in Townsville.

"No I found it harder last week to get up for the game," he says about the Sharks clash. 

"This week it just felt back to footy, obviously still having Alex in our minds.

"But I felt a lot better going into the game this week than last week.

"So, no, that’s not an excuse."

Life doesn't get any easier for the Knights who travel to Canberra to take on the Raiders on Saturday afternoon. 

Bennett is expecting a tough encounter against the Green Machine, but he has no doubts it's a game his team can win if they improve a few fundamentals. 

"Well we knew it was going to be tough coming here and we know it’s going to be tough in Canberra next week," Bennett reasons.

"And until we give ourselves a chance to stay in the game, it’s hard to get a handle on where we are at other than we are not playing well.

"And it doesn’t matter who we are playing if we give them opportunities that we shouldn’t be giving them."