The NSW Cup Newcastle Knights’ took a valuable step closer to the finals after beating the Illawarra Cutters 32-16 at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.
Knights TV caught up with NSW Cup coach Matt Lantry and forward Damien Sironen in the sheds following the team’s win.
“Being 26-6 at half time, I thought we controlled things really well and executed the way we planned,” Lantry said.
But after establishing a weighty lead, the Knights conceded a number of simple tries and possession after the break.
“I’m really disappointed in our second half,” he said.
“We dropped too much ball and probably played a little bit to the scoreboard and turned over too much possession.
“When you have to defend a bit more, it’s going to gas your attack a little bit and the quality you can put forward.
“I’m pleased to get the win but what we spoke about was the quality of that second half is no where near good enough.”
While Jake Mamo returned, the reserve grade Knights were minus Joseph Tapine, Carlos Tuimavave, Sam Mataora and Clint Newton meaning a number of new faces featured in the line-up.
“I thought our debutants were great,” he said.
“Ben Stone and Jack Kelly came up out of the 20s and shared the hooking role today and did a really good job.
“Jake Mamo coming back after a few weeks in the NRL was tremendous for us also at fullback."
Damien Sironen was voted Players’ Player after being named as a starting forward for the first time since joining the Club at the end of June.
“Early in the game we didn’t have a lot of ball, but we had a swing late in the second half and put some points on so that really set us up for the rest of the game,” Sironen said.
“It was a good challenge. They have a really good forward pack.
“We really matched it with those boys and I’m really proud of the effort for the rest of the middle as they just stuck it out with some of the best in our league.
“I thought our middle stood up really well.
“It felt like my best game since I’ve been down here.
“I hit the ground running today with an opportunity to start with Sammy (Mataora) pushing up into the grades, so I was really happy.”
It wasn’t just the men in the middle that contributed to the Knights’ satisfying win according to Sironen.
“I thought our back three were really strong and they read well in defence,” he said.
“Jaelen Feeney was good in the halves and had a good kicking game, so was George Ndaira.”
The NSW Cup Knights next face the North Sydney Bears at North Sydney Oval on Saturday.