Coach Matt Lantry says it was a game of contrasting halves for the Newcastle Knights NSW Cup side on Sunday when it faced the Mounties 24-0 lead at half time before investing a gutsy second half revival to narrow the score.
Despite the Mounties’ eventual four-point win. Lantry says the Knights took plenty of lessons from the trial run.
“We weren’t too worried about the scoreboard, trials are there to iron out some little creases before the comp starts and we probably lacked a little bit of cohesion in that first half,” Lantry said.
“We probably didn’t start the way we would have liked, that’s for sure.
“We turned over too much ball, were ill-disciplined and gave away too many penalties, and when you have to defend back to back sets it’s hard enough to do it once, let alone to do it consistently throughout the first half."
The Mounties capitalised off the back of the Knights’ errors to stretch out an early lead.
Yet it was a half time talk that realigned the red and blue’s plan of attack and turned the game around in the second stanza.
“We addressed a few things at half time and getting back to basics and ball control were the key things,” Lantry said.
“We also addressed the way we carried the footy and supporting the ball carrier and on the flip side of that, how we defended particularly through the middle third.”
The Knights showed plenty of promise through a number of well-devised tries, and two close calls, but not enough to steal a win from the opposition with the final score 28-24.
“To our guys credit they scored some really nice tries and in the process of that second half, they got back to 24-0. At that point we had two tries disallowed, one for a forward pass, and another a knock on,” he said.
This week the NSW Cup squad saw the injection of six players who train fulltime with the NRL squad who joined local players pushing for regular appearances in reserve grade.
“Marrying those guys together with two training sessions under our belt leading into the game was a little bit difficult, but we’re certainly better for the run,” Lantry said.
“Our middle is as strong as it’s probably going to be throughout the competition with Sam Mataora, Pat Vaivai, Chad Redman and James Taylor.
“There still leaves an opportunity for our part timers to get a crack.
“All in all I’m more so pleased with the fact of how they responded after half time.
“They took the messages out that needed to be addressed and they went out to correct them.”