'We’re going to have to be keen to tackle'
Nathan Brown knows if his nib Newcastle Knights are any chance of defeating Penrith, it'll be won on the back of a strong defensive effort.
With the worst points against record in the competition, it would be easy to concede the Knights are against the odds but the number in recent weeks paint a different tale.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's game at Panthers Stadium, Brown set the record straight on the team's defence.
"In the last nine weeks, we're actually seventh for tries leaked, so our last nine weeks hasn't been as bad," Brown said.
"It's our attack in the last nine weeks that hasn't been as good. In saying that, three tries a week on average is not where the good sides are anyway. You want to be around that two tries.
"We've certainly improved in that area, without a doubt but our offence hasn't been as good.
"We've seen Penrith play some of the better defensive sides and cause all sorts of trouble.
"... we're going to have to be keen to tackle and be quite smart about it as well."
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While the finals are out of reach, it's important the team finishes on the right note.
So how does Brown keep his troops motivated?
He leans on his senior players.
"I'd like to think with Mitchell and Aidan, we've got some senior players there, Heighno has come along this year. There's a few senior players who are used to winning games," Brown said.
"You'd like to think that those type of blokes will drive the other players to still want to succeed and want to improve and with our younger players, they should be playing every game like it's their last."
While keeping his players focused is under control, stopping Penrith is another challenge.
The Panthers have made a habit in recent weeks of finding a way to win.
Their previous three victories have been come from behind wins.
So, how do you stop the Penrith surge?
"It's quite amazing, isn't it? Their year to date with the amount of comebacks they've had," Brown said.
"They're a team that when you play footy, they've got a lot of really good footy players, got a lot of athletic people that have good awareness of where space is. They can find space, promote the ball to someone else who is in space and it will be a big athletic type of person as well.
"We're going to have to be hungry to tackle, that's for sure. If we don't get that bit right, they'll cause us plenty of trouble.
"They're a side, that when they do get going, they're dangerous. They do it better from behind than they do in front."