Reflecting on the Newcastle Knights’ loss to the St George Illawarra Dragons, coach Rick Stone says the side’s attacking game will be at the forefront as the team prepares for Friday’s match against the Cronulla Sharks.
The Sharks, who posted their first win of the season on Sunday in a 20-12 win over the Sydney Roosters, will be stiff rivals on home turf.
“I think we played a little bit too conservative given the conditions,” Stone told the media on Monday.
“We have a good skill set and some good outside backs that probably could have seen the ball a little bit more.
“We turned the ball back inside a lot and challenged them through the middle and the Saints were up to the task there.
“When that wasn’t working for us, we probably had to go to Plan B and we didn’t manage to switch to that during the game well enough to get the result we were looking for."
With training this week in full swing, Stone says putting polish on creative attacking options is a priority for the side as they build for the Sharks.
“In a shorter week it’s a bit hard, but in training I think we can get through a couple of drills and challenge Tyrone (Roberts) and (Jarrod) Mullo to get in awkward positions where they need to find a kick and come out with a positive result,” he said.
“It’s not easy and it’s a tough gig they have on the last tackle, but the more practice in game like situations, it gives them a bit more opportunity to get it right on game day.
“We have to make sure we formulate a chase team and our kick team and win the play the ball before the kick.
“Sometimes we got a bit too close to the try line to get the right sort of effective kick.
“There is no doubt that’s an area in our game we must improve.”
Although the Knights have recorded four hard-earned wins to open the season, Stone maintains the side does not plan to underestimate any opposition.
“We were never in the position to take anyone lightly in any game,” he said.
“It’s always a bit topsy-turvy particularly with the early season form.
“It’s a tough gig and every week you can get beat if you’re down a little bit.
“We were down considerably on our energy stats that we usually take and I’d say that the Dragons were nice and high in theirs.
“When you look at the Sharks and the Saints on the weekend, they were pretty desperate for wins and it showed in the way they played.
“They got the right result.
“It’s probably an opportunity gone missing. But at the same time, Saints played well and they deserved their win.
“On the night, they were a bit hungrier than us and it showed in the way they played."
Stone confirmed Beau Scott’s ankle injury sustained on Saturday night would rule him out for at least two weeks.
“He has had some scans and he has some ligament damage that will probably keep him out for a number of games,” he said.
“We will have a little reshuffle there."
Meanwhile, second rower Tariq Sims, who played his first match in for the Knights has been cleared to play in Round 6 after being placed on report during the Dragons match.
“I think he has to play with controlled aggression and there’s no doubt that’s part of his make up. It’ s one of the reasons we got him to the Club,” Stone said.
The coach was pleased with Sims’ first game in the red and blue and believes he’ll be an asset, particularly with a number of forced changes in the Knights’ pack.
“He played 80 minutes which is always tough on a tough night,” he said.
“He had plenty of involvements, ran for a lot of metres and made a lot of tackles.
“He was a bit rusty in a few areas and he’d be the first to admit that.
“I think he’ll only get better from that and will be better for the run when he plays the Sharks on Saturday night.”
Check back at 5.01pm on Tuesday for all the official Round 6 team news.