The NYC Newcastle Knights started the RiseForAlex Round fittingly with a comfortable win over the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday in front of a strong home crowd.
Coach Mick Crawley was chuffed with his team’s result and commended the under 20s for their continued resolve and application.
“For the boys it was all about effort today,” Crawley said.
The NYC Knights displayed a strong performance in the first half and backed it up in the second to record a 42-12 victory.
“They’re a really good bunch of boys and they work really hard, so they’re easy to coach.
“As long as they keep putting in that effort, we can get some returns in the back end.”
Crawley explained that a number of the NYC Knights have had the privilege of playing with Alex McKinnon making the day even more meaningful and special to them.
“I think more than anything it was all about showing how much it means to them playing for the Knights.
“It was good for us to get the Club off to a good start today.”
The coach heaped praise on centre Sione Mata’utia who scored a hat trick in the game describing him as strong, smart and a great talker.
“He’s a first grader, it’s just a matter of when for him,” he said.
NYC Knight, Chance Peni, who scored a try during the game, spoke to Knights TV in the sheds after the teams' win.
“I think the boys put a good effort out there and played a good, solid 80 minutes,” Peni said.
Although errors like ball security existed in the game, he credited the team’s strong defence in the first half to securing the comprehensive win.
“We talked about building our effort on Alex, so it was a good cause."
Teammate Lachlan Fitzgibbon believed Sunday’s game was a must win after recording a draw with the Sharks, who are lower on the table, in the previous round.
“We spoke a lot about the significance of today’s game and what we should do for our home fans,” Fitzgibbon said.
“I’m glad we had a big win in front of the fans.
“It’s always good when you get a good crowd for 20s.
“It’s good for the boys, if they do go on to first grade, they’re used to the big crowds.”
The NYC Knights sit on top of the table and are set to back up on Friday night to take on the Sydney Roosters at Hunter Stadium.
“Last time we played them they had good solid attack, so I think we just need to work on getting our threes in the tackle and we’ll be set for them."
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