NYC Newcastle Knights coach Todd Lowrie admits it would have been nice to go deeper into finals footy, but has credited his players for a strong season.
“In reflection, the guys did really well to finish where they did and to make the finals,” said Lowrie.
“It was a really big effort considering the players we had unavailable, compared to some of the other 20s teams in the competition who almost had their full-strength team week in, week out.
Highly influential players such as Tom Starling and Pasami Saulo moved up to Reserve Grade during the season, while Brodie Jones saw a late promotion also.
“The guys we had certainly tried their guts out and got close to the best of their ability, which as a coach, that is all you can really ask for.
“They ended up making the finals and unfortunately we didn’t go further... but it was a pretty good effort.”
The Under 20s coach felt age was never on their side.
“We are generally pretty young which is good for the future and it’s a good sign that we have a lot of good young blokes coming through... but that’s where you tell the difference in the physicality,” Lowrie explained.
“The development of those guys at 18 compared to 20 year olds is a big difference.
“Players in other teams had an extra 12-18 months of development which has a huge impact on their size and strength.”
Lowrie declared a number of his players have developed their game in leaps and bounds this season.
“Sam McIntyre was a winger last year and he came and played the whole year in the forwards and was certainly one of our best for most of the year,” commented Lowrie.
“Hayden Loughrey moved away from home and it’s his first time playing any system type football.
“He was just playing country footy and came down this year, played nearly every game for us and had a bit of a breakthrough year.