Competition - NRL Premiership Round - Round 08 Teams - Newcastle Knights v Manly Sea Eagles - 25th of April 2016 Venue - Hunter Stadium, Broadmeadow, NSW, Photographer - Paul Barkley

Knights offer tough contest despite result

Coach Nathan Brown and captain Jeremy Smith spoke to the media following Monday's loss at Hunter Stadium.

While the Knights dished up a tight contest, particularly in the first half, a number of injuries forced a reshuffle in the line-up. 

Peter Mata'utia (knee) and Jarrod Mullen (hamstring) were the main injury concerns from the match.

The coach suggested 6-8 weeks for Mata'utia while Mullen will need scans, but says it is likely to be long term.

"We controlled the first half of the game pretty well," Brown said.

"In the first half in particular there were a few 50/50s that didn't quite go the way you hope they'd go. 

"We picked up a number of injuries, Pete Mat'utia early on which is unfortunate as he just came to the Club and has had a positive effect on us from the start."

While a number of things didn't fall in the Knights' favour during the match, Brown identified areas the side needs to improve.

"There were a number of things we can look at that were unfortunate. Losing players, for our young squad, it does put a lot of pressure on people who are just learning the game," he said. 

"At the end of the day, the biggest thing we need to worry about at this stage of our development is what we can do to control our whole destiny. 

"Our ball control in the first half and number of play one and play two errors from the tap and good ball situation. We have to look at the things we can control better like the finish to our sets.

"As a younger side, if we do turn the ball over too much and don't finish our sets, it chews a lot of juice out of a heap of guys who are actually learning to play first grade footy." 

A positive of the encounter was the Knights' ability to match Manly's intensity and the effort shown by individual players. 

"I was quite optimistic at half time and thought we had a really good shot at it," he said. 

"I thought Manly had a little period there in the second half where they were a little bit dominant on us for a 15 minute period. We tried to fight back and get back into the contest and unfortunately we were quite there in the end. 

"The biggest thing for us is learning what it's about to play first grade and you need to control the ball to some extent and you need to finish your sets off. 

"As a whole I thought we competed for most parts of the game." 

Meanwhile Jeremy Smith, who celebrated his 200th game on Monday, saw the potential in the side but attributed the loss to simple errors. 

"I don't think it was that bad. We had a couple of calls that didn't go our way," he said.

"We were just coughing up cheap ball and putting ourselves under pressure which makes it tough when you have a young team."

The Knights take on the Sydney Roosters on Saturday in Round 9 at Allianz Stadium.