A four-game winning streak came to an end for the Reserve Grade Newcastle Knights on Sunday, as a late penalty goal by the North Sydney Bears handed them a loss.
ISP coach Simon Woolford admits while it was a disappointing way to finish, several errors in the first half contributed to the result.
“We weren’t at our best for the first half and we missed a few opportunities particularly down their end of the field,” explained Woolford.
“They got in our face and our attack wasn’t quite as good as it has been in the past couple of months and defensively we let a couple of tries in that we haven’t let in for a long time.”
Woolford admits things were looking up in the second half as they levelled the scores 16-all but they just didn’t have enough gas to finish it off.
“We fixed a few things up early and we were able to reel in that 12-point lead quite easily but we just couldn’t crack them for another try,” said Woolford.
“We came up with a few silly penalties that left them off the hook and they defended their try line quite well.
“The way it finished in the last three minutes was disappointing…. when you’re down their end with potentially another set of six with three minutes to go, at worst we should have come away with a draw.
“It was really disappointing the way we threw it away those last three minutes and enabled them to kick a penalty goal on fulltime.
“We should have been thinking to get the one-point and be happy but we had a bit of a brain explosion and we suffered a penalty after trying to strip the ball back.
“That loss really hurts after the last six weeks we’ve had and the way we’ve been able to establish ourselves with a good opportunity for semi-finals so that just puts us back a little.”
The competition's leading try scorer Tom Hughes stayed true to form on the weekend.
“Tom has been one of our most consistent performers all year and he was rewarded a couple of weeks ago being named in the 21-man NRL squad,” added Woolford.
“He has got his game in order, he’s big and strong and fast, really gets up there and leaps for the high balls, so he’s got a lot to his game and he’s had a good year.”
This week against Illawarra at McDonald Jones Stadium, the ISP coach hopes to have some of his big men back.
“There will be some changes, there always is and we might get one back,” he said.
“Hopefully Jacob Saifiti is back in the NRL side which will allow us to get a big man back with us because we have lacked a bit of size without Mickey (Paea) and Pauli (Pauli) over the last few weeks.
“We’d like to see Mickey playing NRL but from a selfish point of view, it would be nice to have him back in ISP, we’ve missed him.”