NSW Cup coach Matt Lantry has praised the Newcastle Knight’ triumph over the Manly Sea Eagles that sees the side progress to the second week of the NSW Cup finals.
In a re-match from the previous week, the Knights outplayed Manly 45-6 in a convincing win at Belmore Oval after a loss to the side the previous week.
The Knights were first on the board and progressed to pile points on Manly while keeping their opponent’s score to a single figure.
“It was an interesting start to the game, we had to absorb a lot of pressure initially,” Lantry said.
“In the first 20 minutes, we didn’t have a lot of field position, but to the boy’s credit, they defended really well.
“It’s probably our most complete 80 minute performance of the season and the first time we’ve kept a team this year to single figures on the scoreboard.
“Through the hard work defensively, we crossed the line later in the half and managed to get back to back tries and got out to a 22 nil lead.
“The only try that came off the first half was off a play five kick."
Lantry was thrilled with the Knights' ability to pull together a solid defensive performance.
“We won the arm wrestle defensively and that gave us some leverage to play a bit with the footy,” he said.
“Last week, even though we were beaten, I walked away confident that we could win this weekend.
“Not by the score line that eventuated, but I thought we were more than competitive and had a few players out last week."
A number of fulltime Knights returned to the line-up along with NYC young talents Jacob Saifiti, Luke Yates and Ken Tofilau.
“We stuck to our game plan and went through the middle third with some outside back carries and some strong carries from Damien Sironen and Tama Koopu,” he added.
“Our best player by far was Kerrod Holland."
Holland was voted Players’ Player, contributed two tries and kicked a number of the side’s goals on Saturday.
The versatile outside back joined the ranks of the NSW Cup Knights after playing with the Singleton Greyhounds in Group 21.
“He played in a grand final side last year with Cessnock in what was his first year at fullback for the Goannas last year,” Lantry said.
“I’m really pleased for him because he’s worked enormously hard and has been enormously patient and has played centre and wing and over the last month has had a crack at fullback and has played tremendous footy.
“He’s not a kid that gets ahead of himself. He knows he has a lot to improve on, but on the weekend I thought it was his best game.”
After the pleasing win, the side quickly shifts focus to the next game of the finals against the Penrith Panthers at Kogarah's Jubilee Oval 4pm on Sunday.
“We are hopeful to get a few back like Clint Newton along with Jake Mamo and ideally Sam Mataora might drop back as well," Lantry said.
“Certainly those three are ones that will slot into our team.
“Pending their fitness and how they pull up after the Penrith game on Saturday, that will determine whether they play this weekend or not.
“Whether they are there or not there, I think the team on the weekend did a job and I’d be confident going into the game with those guys again.”