Knights rue lost chances
While the Newcastle Knights' were unable to secure a much-needed win against the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday, it was the side's promising young players who shone during the encounter.
Coach Nathan Brown and joint-captain Trent Hodkinson spoke to the media following the game and reflected on lost chances during the loss.
"It was two sides at the rear end of the table trying to scrap out for a win," Brown said.
"At 12-10 we were the more dominant side and we didn't take our chance when we had it.
"Unfortunately for us the other side took their chance.”
A slow start from the Knights cost the side valuable momentum, and while the Knights fought back to gain a brief lead, it was unable to close out the game.
"We started the game to a level that wasn't acceptable I would have thought," he said.
"We then put our two 20-year-old front rowers on and they turned the game in our favour.
The talent and energy shown by the Knights' youngsters was an overwhelming positive of the match for Brown.
"The most pleasing thing for me was the two 20-year-old front rowers," he said.
"One who doesn't come to training because he works. Kingy (Josh King), he can only come once a week because he's doing an apprenticeship.
"Daniel Saifiti, who is 19, is outstanding.
"We are trying to build a Club and to know we have some good young props coming through is very pleasing.
"We have a lot of hope for him and Jacob (Saifiti), that's why I have extended their contracts.
"They are good young lads who want to play for the Knights and are here for the right reasons. They want to do well for the team and the town.”
He also praised the efforts of hooker Danny Levi and Pauli Pauli.
"Daniel certainly is a talented player and think the Tigers boys would have come off the field are thought that him and King are two players who will help this Club move forward,” he said.
"I thought Danny Levi had some pleasing stuff for a young hooker who hasn't played a lot of time, he hung on the field for a long period of time.
"Pauli had some good involvement for us. He's still only young, he's only 21, even though he's so big.
"Sometimes we think because of their size and how big they are, we think they are ready to go.
"If he really focuses hard and gets himself fit and hard, he could be one of the better players in the competition as a back rower.
"He's very unlucky not to have score and create a few tries.”
It was the influence of these young players on the field which swung the game in the Knights favour.
“One of our biggest problems this year at times against sides has been our ruck defence,” he said.
“The first two minutes of the game we weren't near NRL standard.
“A lot of it is technique based, sometimes it's a bit of want and sometimes the pace of the game gets to some of the young players.
“The reason our game changed because we put the 19 and 20 front rowers on the field and they won the ruck for us and that brought everyone into the contest and gave an opportunity when we were 10-6 down.”
Meanwhile halfback Trent Hodkinson returned to the side after resting a re-occurring knee injury.
"It was far better than last week, we gave ourselves a chance and competed,” he said.
"We didn't take our chances when they are there.
"It was a close game but we competed today which is pleasing but at the end of the day we didn't get the result.
"Having the week off I was nice and refreshed and thought it was one of my better games for the Knights.”
In injury news Jeremy Smith picked up a bicep complaint, while young half Brock Lamb injured his ankle. An update will be provided during the week.