It was a heartbreaking loss for the Newcastle Knights, who were narrowly defeated by the Parramatta Eels on Monday night at Hunter Stadium.
Knights TV caught up with Nathan Ross, Sione Mata’utia and Jake Mamo in the sheds following the match which saw the Knights pipped by just two points despite a spirited last ditch effort to score points.
“This loss really does hurt because all the boys did try really hard,” Mata’utia said.
“It stings your heart, but you have to just move forward.
“We will go up to Townsville and have the same effort."
The gutsy centre believes improvements shown by the team were the result of strong preparation and positive intentions made during the week.
“It was good that it was something new for us and we led at half time,” he said.
“The boys dug deep tonight and we really focused on being competitive in the next couple of games.
“I thought we really were competitive but guess it just wasn’t enough to get the win.”
He also felt the team had set a new benchmark in defence.
“It has been our focal point in the last couple of games,” the youngest Mata'utia said.
“We have really lacked off in our defensive side so we have really been trying hard to improve our defence.
“I think tonight has been the best night since.”
It was a similar feeling of disappointment from Ross who was denied a possible match-winning try in the final minutes of the two point loss.
“It was so close but so far. There was a blade of grass in it. Hopefully that blade of grass will be a little bit closer next weekend and we can get a win against the defending premiers,” he said.
Ross impressed at opposite centre gaining 219 attacking run metres, the highest in the game.
Yet the 27-year-old was reluctant to speak about his individual success following the game.
“When it comes down to individual performance in a team loss there’s no consolation prize,” he said.
“It’s a team sport and not about one person.”
To him, the result was a good sign the Knights are following the right course in the way of developing and improving young players.
“It was good and exhilarating and good to know we can match it with some top teams,” he said.
“We need to turn around right now and focus on coming up against a very good North Queensland outfit and try to implement our game plan.
“It feels good and should build some confidence in this camp."
Fullback Jake Mamo was equally gutted with the result considering the effort and determination the side showed in front of a home crowd.
“It was definitely disappointing,” he said.
“There was a lot of good stuff in our game.
“We took the game to them a lot and I think we have been a lot better than we have been in the last couple of weeks.
“I was really happy with our defence and thought we improved that a lot with our line speed in defence and meeting the opposing team and hitting them hard.
“Each team out there was quite desperate and they just came home with it.
"I think the fans will be happy with our effort today and our commitment.
"Although we didn’t win, I think we did show we are going to compete and we showed that tonight.”