In the sheds: Round 8
It was clear emotions ran high before and after the Newcastle Knights' match against the Manly Sea Eagles on ANZAC Day, which resulted in a tough 26-10 loss at Hunter Stadium.
The significance of playing on ANZAC Day and the failure to secure a win in front of a strong home ground added to the disappointment felt amongst the playing group.
“It was a really hard game and today has been a really emotional process,” Nathan Ross told Knights TV in the sheds after the game.
“It’s my first time I have played on ANZAC Day and Nathan (Brown) told us the story from his father before the game and it really stirred up a lot in me.
“Today really struck a cord with me. I’m a very proud Australian and am proud of my heritage and for the people who laid their lives down for this country.
“It’s just amazing.
“Out there today, I know the boys just wanted to give 110 per cent to pay our respects to the Diggers.
"Compile on top of that our rivalry with Manly we were a bit unlucky to not come away with the win.
“I can’t fault anyone’s effort.”
David Bhana was equally honoured to be a part of the occasion at Hunter Stadium in what was his fourth game in the NRL.
“It was a big day with Jez’s (Jeremy Smith) 200th and playing on ANZAC Day, but Manly was a tough side there and showed why they are contenders for finals footy,” he said.
It was an inability to complete sets that diffused pressure built by the Knights according to Bhana, who played 40 minutes at prop.
“They played really tough and completed sets, which is something we didn’t do,” he said.
“We can say we were unlucky, but at the end of the day we have to hold the ball and stop giving away cheap penalties.
“That’s how we will get back into arm wrestles.
“It’s hard to build any pressure when we are dropping it on play one and play two and giving away penalties late in the tackle count.
“When we do get the ball in good positions and play direct we look really good.
“We’re just not doing it enough.”
An early injury to newly signed centre, Peter Mata’utia also added to the Knights' woes.
“It was tough losing an outside back and we didn’t have any cover,” he said.
“I think Tyler Randell did a really good job in the centres there and is pretty versatile.
“That left Danny (Levi) to do 80 in the middle, which is a tough gig.
“I thought he showed a lot of heart out there.”
The Knights now turn focus to Saturday's Round 9 match against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium.