ISP win despite odds stacked against them
Reserve Grade Newcastle Knights coach Simon Woolford has praised his side for a difficult win against a third placed Mounties on the weekend.
As player numbers started to drop, Woolford admits his team continued to put in the hard yards.
“We were down on troops, we lost both our centres in the first half and we had a couple of guys in the head bin in the second half,” explained Woolford.
“At one stage we had 12 men because we had to have Will Pearsall in the head bin and we had no one on the bench fit to replace him.
“It was a really good win and shows the guys can turn up with the right attitude and are capable of anything.”
The ISP coach says he was pleased with a speedy start before the perils of footy set in.
“We led 12-0 and then we lost Chanel (Mata’utia) and Jacob Gagan before half time so we had a couple of back rowers playing on the edge,” said Woolford.
“We had middle units through the second half that we couldn’t get off because we had no one to replace them.
“Luckily after 12-all we got away from them in the second half to lead 24-12 and we hung on until eight or nine minutes to go, it was a bit hairy in the end but it was just a magnificent effort.
“You don’t have many better victories than that with the adversity the team went through, the fact the guys had to play extended minutes and under duress.”
Woolford admits being able to defeat one of the top teams in the competition shows what his team are capable of.
“I made the point after the game, the last time we put a performance in like that it was against Penrith (Panthers) when they had four of their NRL players drop back for disciplinary reasons,” he said.
“The good teams turn up every week, it doesn’t matter who they are playing and that’s where we’ve got to get to.
“We have got to turn up with the right intensity and attitude every week.
“We can’t afford to have two good wins and fall away for the next month.”
Woolford admits it is also handy to have a few NRL regulars in the mix.
“(Jack) Stockwell was great, he really troubled Mounties with his carries and protected the line on a number of occasions,” said Woolford.
“Hokko (Trent Hodkinson) was good too, he steered us about the park, he kicked well, he had a hand in a try and scored one of his own.
“He kicked four goals, a couple from out wide which is an added bonus to have a goal kicker like that.
“He probably played his best game for the year and again he’ll be knocking on the door of NRL selections so it’s pleasing to see him find some form.”
The ISP Knights will again play the Penrith Panthers this Sunday and are hoping to follow on from their successful meeting against them earlier in the season.
“They drew with the (New Zealand) Warriors who are up near the lead so they’ll be coming up here with a bit of confidence too,” said Woolford.
“We showed what we’re capable of against those guys four or five weeks ago so we’re at home and should get a bit of confidence.
“We will be looking to go back to back, there’s no doubt about that.”
This weekend is the last chance to see all Knights grades at McDonald Jones Stadium for six weeks, so make sure you join us at the game this weekend.