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The Newcastle Knights rued a terrible start against the Canberra Raiders after being defeated 36-22 in the nation’s capital on Friday night.

The Raiders took an 18-0 lead within 15 minutes of kick off thanks to a Blake Austin hat-trick.

“Realistically our defence in the first 20 minutes was poor,” Stone said after the match.

“I know they scored some tries from kicks but the ruck speed Canberra generated in the first 20 was super quick and it’s not NRL standard what we managed in that first 20.”

The Knights returned from the bye intent on returning to the winner’s circle but a lack of confidence is costing the side.

“I know injuries have had a little bit to do with where we’ve been at some stages during the year, and we’ve still got a few players out, but every team’s got a few players out when you get to this stage of the season,” Stone added.

“We’re down on confidence, we’re struggling to know how to win a game at the moment.”

On a positive note, halves Jarrod Mullen and Tyrone Roberts made a successful return from a toe and ankle injury respectively. 

“Having our halves back certainly helps… but even the world’s best halves aren’t going to win you games if your defence is not good enough at the start,” Stone added.

In other injury news, Sione Mata’utia was unable to return to the match due to a head knock while Danny Levi was cleared of injury despite leaving the game early to have his back assessed.

“I don’t think it’s anything too major for Sione, but it was probably bad enough for him not to return to the game,” Stone said.

The Knights now return to Hunter Stadium to host the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday July 18.