Coach Simon Woolford ways while the Reserve Grade Knights couldn't get a win against the New Zealand Warriors on the weekend, an 18-all draw against one of the top teams impressed.
“To get a point on those guys, on top of the ladder, while it would have been nice to get two, we certainly were pretty comfortable getting one against them,” commented Woolford.
The ISP coach admits they started with vigour early but it dropped off further into the match.
“We scored a nice try early, we completed our sets, we defended with plenty of aggression and the Warriors found it hard getting out of their own end,” Woolford explained.
“We lost our way in the middle of the first half and made five or six errors in a row that put pressure on our defence and they were able to get a couple of tries.
“Going in 12-6 at halftime, I was still confident that if we could control the ball, we could get the result.
“We played pretty well in the second half but we came up with a little bit of bad luck and a couple of poor options where we really could have skipped to a 12-point lead.
“We just weren’t quite good enough and they were able to get a late try on us which was disappointing.”
Woolford feels a positive sign was seeing his men physically match New Zealand.
“They are big and strong like any Warriors team and we more than matched them in that area and were able to score some nice tries,” he said.
“We stuck to our plan really well but we just lost our way when we let them get in front.
“We were able to regain the momentum in the second half but we weren’t quite good enough to put the icing on the cake and we let them in for a late try.”
Brendan Elliot and Josh King, who travelled with the NRL squad to Melbourne but didn’t play, hopped straight off the plane and headed to Cessnock for the match.
“It wasn’t an ideal preparation for those guys,” said Woolford.
“They had to go down with the NRL boys, they got off the plane and I picked them up and took them to the game but they were two of our better performers.
“Josh played 60 minutes in the middle which was a big effort.
"Brendan scored a nice try; did plenty of things and added a bit of experience.
“It was pleasing to see those guys come back with such a disrupted preparation and play really well.”
In the second half, Braden Robson switched positions to score back-to-back tries and put the Knights in front.
“He was in the back row but we had to put him into the centres when Tom Hughes got taken off with concussion right after half time,” stated Woolford.
“He scored two nice tries and it was probably one of his best games for the year.
“Hokko (Trent Hodkinson) had a hand in all three tries scored and he was really good again.
“He kicked his goals and did his job in defence so I thought those guys were standouts.”
It is another week and another test against the Newtown Jets for Round 14 this weekend.
“We need to turn up and be prepared to go, no matter who we play,” said the Reserve Grade coach.
“Newtown are equal with us, we’re at home and we’ve beaten them already this year.
“We should have got a lot of confidence out of the weekend so there are no excuses, we need to be turning up ready to play our best football.
“We have a bye the week after so there’s a lot on the line, we could really start to get on a little bit of a run if we can win this week.”