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nib Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown and captain Sione Mata’utia spoke to the media following the Round 8 loss to the North Queensland Cowboys.

“I thought we started dipping our toe in the water a little bit,” said Brown.

“They had 58 per cent possession in the first half and that has been an issue for us on a number of occasions this year.

“I thought coming into the second half 12-10, we did a fairly good job then the Cowboys got the early try in the second half.

“We certainly don’t play quite good enough for long enough and hence we lose lots of close games.

“As an overall performance, I thought tonight was probably our worst out of our last three performances.”

Brown admits the lack of experience in his squad is evident.

“Our starting side totalled around 520 games so that probably shows where we’re at from an experience point of view,” he said.

“I am not making an excuse for the starting side but it’s a fact, the Cowboys would have had two players that equalled our whole 13 so we’ve come a long way but it still shows how far we’ve got to go.

“The Cowboys have been a Club that have been quite successful for a long period of time and they have some really good players on the field and some really high quality who represent at a high level.”

Although from a defensive point of view, Brown maintains the red and blue did show promising form.

“Our left side handled (Michael) Morgan really well and handled Coen Hess really well and thought our middles did a great job on Jason Taumalolo,” Brown added.

“He had that one little period where he got a little break but I thought we actually did a really good job on him.

“It is the case in many weeks, we see some good and we see some players perform on a level that is not good enough for NRL.

“We see a team that doesn’t perform well enough for long enough.”

Brown also acknowledged the work of the Cowboys’ Kalyn Ponga, who the Knights have recruited for next year.

“It is quite clear why we have targeted Kalyn, it is quite clear what he is going to bring to our Club,” said the Knights coach.

“He came up with a couple of special plays and it’s great that he’s getting to play from our point of view."

Meanwhile for Sione Mata’utia, who switched to the halves, he was honoured to captain the side but wanted the win more.

“I just wanted to make it about the players and the team,” said Mata’utia.

“It is definitely a highlight; I have always wanted to captain this side as I’ve grown up watching this side but it would have been good if we’d have got the chocolates.

“It would definitely have been a good story but it is what it is and we’re looking to improve in another opportunity.”

Coach Brown maintains they can now concentrate on their Round 9 clash against the Gold Coast Titans, who they’ve had their only win against this season.

“They are certainly a side that have had their fair share of bad luck this year, they were fielding a changed side regularly,” he said.

“Every week for us is a hard week, we always put aside that we’re far less experienced than the opposition, for us to win we need to compete hard and compete hard for a long period.”

The Knights travel to the Gold Coast on Friday to take on the Titans at Cbus Super Stadium on Saturday.