The Newcastle Knights Under 20s plan to emulate the composure and determination they showed in last weekend's win as they get set to face the Parramatta Eels this Sunday at Hunter Stadium.
The NYC Knights defeated the Cronulla Sharks 22-18 at Remondis Stadium on Friday night, showing nerves of steel to score the winning try with less than three minutes to play.
“We were down 18-16 with 10 minutes to go and we managed to complete our last seven sets and score a try with a minute to go and put the game away,” coach Troy Pezet said at Monday's recovery session.
“We took it all the way to the wire, but it was a pleasing thing that we showed some maturity at the end competed and didn’t get too flustered and got away with the win.
“I think all our forwards were really good again.”
Pezet said top performers in the side were Luke Yates and Bradie Smith who clocked up impressive numbers in carry and tackle counts. He also thought Ken Tofilau shone on the wing.
“We simplified the game for Ken and just wanted him to run hard and have heaps of carries…and he’s just been wonderful the last couple of weeks,” he said.
Interchange forward Ben Stone was the man of the hour when he burst through the Sharks defensive line to score right of the goalposts.
“The boys were really happy, and especially for Ben,” he said.
“He came in late and plays first grade at Lakes United in the local comp, so missed a fair bit of the off season, but he’s been one of our best defenders each week and filled a hole. He’s never one to winge or complain and just gets the job done.”
Luke Yates was proud of the side’s win against the Sharks in what was their second round played in challenging, wet conditions.
“We were down at the start and we had to fight our way back, but once we hit our groove in the second half we felt the momentum change and we ended up winning right at the end,” Yates said.
“We just have to know we can stick in there, we only just came back there at the end.
“It’s been about being mentally tough while not letting it blow out.
“When they got out we stuck together and ended up getting a win in the end.
“They will be a pretty big side as they always are so we will be focusing on defence."
Brock Lamb agreed the Knights' ability to remain calm under pressure was the deciding factor in the match.
“It was a pretty good game and there was a fair bit of effort there,” Lamb said.
“We were down, kept fighting and we eventually got ourselves back in the game.
“There’s still a lot to improve on, but it’s good to get a win.”
Meanwhile Jacob Saifiti was pleased to conjure a win against a sizable Cronulla pack.
“It was a pretty scrappy match and the weather didn’t help us so it was a very back and forward game,” Saifiti said.
“We were lucky to get away with the two points I think.
“Through the middle they were very tough. Defensively and in attack we had to muscle up in the middle.
“With the weather, it was played throughout the forwards and I think we matched them with that."
The Knights’ attention now shifts to Sunday’s match against Parramatta Eels at Hunter Stadium.
“It’s a long turn around which will help is with out injuries,” Saifiti added.
“They are a good side every year and always have a big pack, we will get ready for this weekend to see if we can get away with the two points.”