Coach Matt Lantry has attributed the NSW Cup Newcastle Knights’ phenomenal grand final win to momentum and belief after an inspiring 20-10 victory over the Wyong Roos on Sunday afternoon.
It’s been 20 years since a Knights side has claimed a NSW Cup premiership and now sees the team progress to play the 2015 State Championship against Ipswich at ANZ Stadium on Sunday’s NRL grand final day.
“It’s an enormous sense of satisfaction, it’s a tremendous achievement,” Lantry told Knights TV in the sheds after the game.
“Eight weeks ago, we weren’t thinking grand final, we were thinking where are we going to get our next player from.
“Fifty players have been used and every single one of them has played their part whether they have played one game or played all season.
The Knights 2015 season saw it’s ups and downs with the side finishing seventh on the competition ladder before launching into the sudden death finals series.
“To turn up and do the job they’ve done, they’ve had to do I the hard way,” he said.
“There hasn’t been a week off or time to freshen up the legs, it just shows how mentally tough they are.
“I think (the key has been) momentum, it’s a big part this time of year and belief and confidence in your ability.
Lantry was particularly proud of the Knights’ solid defensive attitude and effort.
“The one thing that we addressed in week one about what wins you big games, and that’s the defensive aspect,” he said.
“It’s something we have struggled with all year.”
The finals season saw the Knights deliver a number of gutsy wins against competition front runners the Manly Sea Eagles, Penrith Panthers and the Mounties before the third encounter of the season with the Wyong Roos in the grand final.
“That momentum and belief in our defensive line put us in good stead,” he said.
“What we repelled today was nearly an NRL quality side, with the number of players who have been in the Roosters system.
“Grand finals always carry emotion, but for it to be a local derby as well, it’s nice to get a little bit of revenge in the way that we should have beaten them in No. 2 Sports Ground in Round 19 after being touched up a bit earlier in the competition."
While the grand final win is the ultimate finish to the 2015 season, the NSW Cup Knights now progress to vie for the State Championship against Ipswich.
The team will continue preparation throughout the week in the build up to the enormous occasion.
“You can’t win the NSW Cup grand final and not celebrate it, so we’re going to enjoy the moment because they don’t come around often," he said.
“Some of the boys knew what it was like to taste defeat last year.
“We’ll recover tomorrow and will be ready to go come Tuesday.
We want to create history, it’s what we spoke about today. We are the first side (to win a grand final) since 1995.”
Lantry also thanked the Club's vocal and passionate supporters who travelled to cheer the side on at Pirtek Stadium.
“I really appreciate the support and in particular, the people of Newcastle and all the people who came down today to support their NSW Cup side,” he said.
“It’s a footy town and we we’re representing those guys. They got right behind us, and through some tough and tense times, the crowd found their voice and we drew some energy from that and the boys hung on.”
NRL Grand final day:
Precinct Activity: 11am-6pm (AEST)
Gates Open: 1.15pm (AEST)
2015 Holden Cup Grand Final: 1.35pm (AEST)
2015 State Championship Grand Final: 3.40pm (AEST)
NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final: 7.15pm (AEST)
For tickets visit nrl.com/tickets