Experienced forward Clint Newton was candid in his review of the Newcastle Knights’ performance against the Sydney Roosters on Sunday at Hunter Stadium.
The Knights failed to start the match with adequate intensity to contain a firing Roosters side touted as one of the premiership favourites.
“I’ve been trying to put my finger on that for the last two months and I can’t seem to understand why that’s happening and every week we’re behind,” Newton said after the team’s recovery session on Monday morning.
“It’s not good enough at NRL level.
“This game is far too hard to come back every week from 12, 18, 20, 26 points and expect to then have enough petrol in the tank at the end of the game to win the game.
“It’s all well and good to fight back, that’s fine, but you can’t lose the game in the first 20 minutes. It certainly makes it very difficult to have any chance of wining the game."
For Newton, who is counting down on the final games of his career before he retires at season’s end, a loss on home turf carried additional frustration.
“That’s the other disappointing thing, not just the performance, but a performance in front of a home crowd prepared to pay their money to come out and watch us play,” he added.
“To dish up some footy there that didn’t show a whole lot to supporters that made the effort to come, it’s unacceptable.
“We have to do better and will try to do better.”
The veteran Knights assured the team approached the match knowing exactly what was required of them against a stiff opposition.
“The whole idea of playing the Roosters is making sure you complete your sets, get into a grind with them,” he explained.
“Like any team they can get the wobbles if you have your fair share of ball.
“To have 35 per cent of the ball at one point in the first half, it’s impossible to win against a forward pack that is very good and very well coached.
“You can’t stay in the game if you’re not completing the footy and staying in the cycle.
“We saw that for a 20 minute period how much the game can swing and the same thing happened last week when they played the Bulldogs."
He said the key message from interim coach Danny Buderus on Monday morning was for the Knights to stay in the fight.
“We can put up the white flag and say we’ll pack up stumps for the rest of the year, or we could keep fighting,” he said.
“I know for me personally, giving up is not an option.
“We need to get ourselves in the right position to win football games.”