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O’Brien: Forwards proving the experts wrong

It was a gutsy and strong effort from all the nib Newcastle Knights in their win over Brisbane on Thursday night, but especially from the forward pack who have seriously impressed fans over the first six rounds of the competition.

Starting forwards David Klemmer and Daniel Saifiti both notched up huge numbers combining for 407 running metres, 53 tackles and eight tackles breaks.

Those efforts were backed up excellently by Jacob Saifiti, Sione Mata’utia and the returning Lachlan Fitzgibbon who all played a key role in securing the 21-point victory.

Coach Adam O’Brien applauding the recent performances from his forward pack, especially after having been doubted at the beginning of the season.

AOB: Mann, pack power and Pearce tough

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“All our forwards I couldn’t speak highly enough of,” O’Brien said.

“They were really understated at the start of the year by all the experts. They had them well down the list of being a formidable pack.

“Big blokes take that personally.

“We need them to continue to lay down the platform that they are.”

In addition to the forwards, another name that shined during his time on the field was that of five-eighth Kurt Mann who managed to pick up a try and a try assist before being interchanged for the final 21 minutes.

The former Melbourne utility has turned heads with his recent showings but while some may be surprised, a pleased O’Brien isn’t so shocked.

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At the beginning of pre-season, the Knights coach gave Mann basic instructions to work on and follow, and he’s applying them precisely.

“I always knew he was a good runner of the footy,” he said.

“He’s hard to tackle when he runs the ball.

“We just needed a guy who was going to compliment Kalyn [Ponga] and Junior [Pearce], and I think he’s done that.

“He needs to keep playing well. He’s got two young fellas pushing him pretty hard in Tex [Hoy] and Phoenix [Crossland], and he’s got Mason [Lino].

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The two points guarantee Newcastle will spend another week inside the top four and after tasting defeat for the first time last weekend against the Storm, it was a satisfying result despite admittedly not playing to the best of their ability.

“It was important that we came down here five days later to rectify that,” O’Brien said.

“That’s what good teams do. After a loss like that, they find a way to win the next week.

“That was a good learning curve for us…It wasn’t polished in terms of attack, but we just had to find a way to get the job done.”