nib Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown didn’t mince his words about the performance his men put out against Cronulla at Maitland on the weekend.
It simply ‘wasn’t good enough’.
After a 30-6 defeat by the visitors, ball control was ‘terrible’ and errors were high.
But while it was clear the Knights struggled to make an impact, there were still some positives to take into Round 1.
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The head coach was pleased with the physicality of his men.
He believed they got that right.
“Last three years we’ve played Cronulla, they have beat us up physically and that wasn’t the case,” said Brown.
“We physically rolled with them for a fair period.
“Under a lot of pressure, I thought we rolled forward well, and I thought we handled Paul Gallen and Andrew Fifita pretty well.”
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New recruit Kurt Mann received some praise.
His versatility coming in handy.
“Mann’s ability to play three positions was a real highlight,” Brown added.
While off the bench for a short period in the second half, the young up and comers caught Brown’s eye.
First touch of the game and energetic back Starford To’a burned his opponent to score the Knights only try.
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While young front rower Jirah Momoisea got his chance and didn’t disappoint.
“Starford got a bit of a taste and Jirah. Those two showed real pleasing signs,” Brown admitted.
A few other names received a small mention.
“Daniel Safiti, Danny Levi, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Mitch Barnett, Sione Mata’utia, they looked like they belonged in first grade,” credited Brown.
“They were physically and mentally ready to play.”
But as Brown said, a trial is a trial.
While the pride took a hit…. there’s no points in it.
And if it’s anything to go by last years trial result… it could be a good thing.
“We were poor last year, and we came out to beat Manly first up so it’s not the be all and end all… but certainly we would have liked to play a bit better,” laughed Brown.