While the Newcastle Knights laid a solid platform to lead the match for 72 minutes against the Mount Pritchard Mounties, it was a perfect conversion rate that saw the opposition steal a two-point victory on Saturday at Aubrey Keech Oval.
NSW Cup coach Matt Lantry said the Knights approached the match from back-to-wins but remained wary of the challenge of versing an unbeaten Mounties on Saturday.
“It was a disappointed dressing room after the match on the basis that we should have won that game, there’s no doubting that,” Lantry said.
“We played some really attractive footy and we went out there with a plan and the boys showed belief in that plan and executed it really well."
The Knights showed strong promise early on in attack, which rewarded Carlos Tuimavave, who shifted to centre, and fullback Jake Mamo with doubles.
“The two tries to Carlos came through the Knights attacking the Mounties goal line and two long shift to the left side,” he said.
“That created some space and he had some nice footwork to score.
“The Knights led 12-0 early in the game, but the disappointing thing was the missed opportunities with the ball that we had."
Lantry explained the Knights missed a number of valuable opportunities at the end of sets where misjudged passes and lack if attention with the football created errors.
“In the first half it was defensive issues where we let a number of line breaks which invited the Mounties back into the game and we locked up at 12-all before half time to lead 16-12,” he said.
The Knights scored five tries to the Mounties four but their perfect conversion rate enabled the unbeaten side over the line for their sixth straight win.
“It’s easy to say if you kick more goals you win the game, but the disappointing thing for me was in the back end of the first half where we let too many line breaks in and some soft tries and some errors that were costly and gave the Mounties some field position,” the coach added.
“The class of their players in that team, it was always going to be tough to defend.”
The NSW Cup Knights were forced to juggle positional changes after key players Nathan Ross and forward Sam Mataora were ruled out of the match.
“Sam Mataora was ruled out on the morning of the day which meant two players came in late on limited preparations,” he said.
Lantry was pleased to have Tyler Randell play 80 minutes for the side and praised Ben Toupu, who was solid playing off the bench.
The NSW Cup Knights will look to turn their three wins this season into a fourth when the team returns to Hunter Stadium to play the Wentworthville Magpies for Saturday’s three game fixture.
“The sooner you get back on the park and the sooner you erase the memories of last week,” he said.
“It’s not something we’re going to dwell on, but hopefully we can get back home at Hunter Stadium to contribute to three wins on the day.”
Knights 22 (T: Mamo 2, Tuimavave 2, Allison; G: Tuha 0/2, Randell 1/3)
Mounties 24 (T: Baptiste 2, Tupou, Dragan G: Cornish 3/3 P: 1/1)
Mamo, Allison, Tuimavave, P Mata'utia, Tuha, Randell, Feeney, Taylor, Redman, Vaivai, Fitzgibbon, Filipo, Newton. Bench: Togitasi, Finn, Tupou, Jarrett.