NYC Newcastle Knights coach Todd Lowrie said against a quality team, his men stepped up their game to fight their way into finals footy.
“It was back and forth for a lot of the game and our boys were certainly up for the game which was great to see,” commented Lowrie.
In a points-for-points scenario, the Under 20s edged out the Cronulla Sharks in the final ten minutes of the match on Sunday to lock down a spot in the top eight.
“It was tit-for-tat for a lot of the game and to our boys’ credit, we stuck to the game plan which we knew or hoped would work,” explained Lowrie.
“In the end, it did and we wanted to tire them out through the middle and really go at them.
“Our boys backed themselves and were able to get over them towards the back end of the game.”
With the speed of fullback Matt Cooper and precision at the tee from Kurtis Dark, the Under 20s looked every bit the intimidating unit to grind out the minor premiers.
“Pretty much everyone in the team was really good and a lot of our trainers said the guys out there probably worked harder than they’ve ever worked before,” said the NYC coach.
“We only ended up making six changes and it was a pretty hot day, but we played up-tempo.
“It is a real credit to them, they worked hard and they got the result they were after.”
Lowrie is well aware the hard work doesn’t stop there with a short turnaround as they prepare to encounter the Brisbane Broncos on Friday.
“I learnt throughout my career that finals are a lot about the momentum that you carry in,” he stated.
“If you’re not in form, you come out just as quickly so it is certainly good to be going in on the back of two wins.
“Hopefully beating the minor premiers, we can go in with a bit of confidence to carry on and keep going on a little bit further.
“There are eight teams left and anything can happen in the finals so we need to make sure we prepare well and go in and give it our best crack.”
The Knights take on the Broncos at Allianz Stadium in the Qualifying Final on Friday, kick-off is at 5.15pm.