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They've failed to beat competition leaders Mounties on three occasions this season if you include the pre-season trials, but the Knights NSW Cup team remain confident they can rebound and still give the title a real shake at the backend of the year. 

Just ask fullback Nathan Ross, who says the team are staying positive despite Saturday's comprehensive 50-30 loss to Mounties at GIO Stadium. 

After being locked at 18-all at the break, Newcastle conceded 32 points in the second half in a disappointing 40 minutes of football.

Ross admits fatigue played a role in the second half, but he insists the team are determined as ever to hit back against local rivals Wyong on Sunday. 

"We had a long bus trip down and we might have been battling a little bit of flatness in the second half, but they are a classy team," Ross says.

"But we can learn from this loss and come back bigger, better and stronger as a unit next week against Wyong.

"There are a lot of ex-Knights in the Wyong team as well, so it will be good to keep getting over our little brother.

"They’ve got a strong team and rip is a good coach, but we’ve got the firepower to give this whole competition a nudge."

Asked how he performed in his first match for 2014 since breaking his jaw in the pre-season trial against Mounties in February, Ross said he was relatively happy.  

"Yeah not to bad," he says.

"My match fitness is still probably under a little bit and there are a few things I can work on, but overall for my first game I’m pretty happy with what I did."

Knights coach Rick Stone was shattered with the loss to Mounties, especially with his team's lack of conviction in defence. 

"We didn’t learn too many lessons from the first round unfortunately," Stone laments.

"They had a good flow of possession and a little bit more ball than us and we made it hard on ourselves on the back of some offloads and untidy defence.

"We struggled to defend an error when it was time to do it and we didn’t defend our line well when we had to.

"There was some real good resolve two weeks ago against Cronulla, but disappointing today for sure."

Stone may not have liked the final scoreline, but he was pleased with the two-try performance of Ross in his first match for the season.

"He (Nathan) was great for us on both sides," he enthuses.

"He probably saved a couple of tries and he was dangerous in attack.

"He is going to be a good player for us going forward.

"That’s a good thing for him to come back. He is a bloke that has got plenty of energy and he brings plenty to the team.

"Hopefully he can improve from that as well."

Stone was also content with the effort of halfback Michael Dobson, who was a late inclusion in the NSW Cup ranks when Jarrod Mullen returned to the NRL. 

The former Raider had a hand in a number of tries, while he also provided plenty of direction in encouraging signs for future weeks. 

"I thought Dobbo was good," he says.

"He tried really hard and instigated a fair bit of our attack down that left-hand side.

"It was the first time he trained with the team on Friday, so if he stays in our team he’ll get better as he goes on.

"We had enough potency in attack, but unfortunately defensively today we weren’t good enough."

The Knights take on Wyong at Newcastle's No.2 Sportsground on Sunday and Stone believes the match will be an ideal way to respond after last week's loss against Mounties.

"It’s always an interesting game that one against Wyong," he says.

"It’s a bit of a local derby there and they come out fired up and we’ve got a few bumps and bruises there today after a tough game.

"So the extra day or two will do us good.”