Reserve Grade Newcastle Knights coach Simon Woolford couldn’t be any happier with his side’s 12-point win on Sunday.
The ISP coach says there were 17 contributors out on the field against Illawarra and that’s what won the match.
“We started the game really well and were on top,” explained Woolford.
“The team we played against were very young so we thought if we could start with an aggressive attitude and get some points, we might put them under pressure.”
Despite a lapse of concentration at the back end of the first half, the Knights fought hard to pick their form back up.
“We let them back into the game with a couple of silly tries,” explained the ISP coach.
“We re-grouped at half time and got back to what we have trained to do in the second half.
“The boys worked really hard.”
Woolford maintained a few back from injury made all the difference.
“Chanel Mata’utia has had a disruptive season with injury so it was good to see him get a full game in and score a nice try at the back end of the game,” he said.
“Jack Cogger was missing for three months and had a couple of games back in the 20s but I thought he was really good today.
“I thought we had a lot of leaders including Trent Hodkinson who was outstanding in the second half.
“Mickey Paea and Pauli Pauli were also really good for us in that second half but it was a collective effort with 17 contributors.”
Starting off the match with an early try from Tom Hughes, the winger then went on to record a hat-trick and steer his team to victory.
“Tommy has been one of our most consistent performers all year and he was rewarded this week by being named in the 21-man squad for the NRL boys,” stated Woolford.
“He is a player that has been in the system at Souths for a couple of years, has moved up here and done everything I have asked of him at ISP level.
“Hopefully Tommy can continue that and he gets an opportunity at NRL level down the track but he’s certainly been good for us for most of the year.”
The Reserve Grade coach says the key now is to use the victory as motivation to string a few more wins together.
Woolford knows consistency will be what guides his men to finals footy.
“We have had some good performances through the year but they’ve just been few and far between,” explained Woolford.
“We had a good run early where we won three, then we lost three and we’ve been there-abouts in the last couple of games.
“If we could get near an 80-minute performance, we will do well in games.
“We still need to work on where we have gone wrong but apart from that there were a lot of positives.”