You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Defensive pride: Barnett analyses the turnaround in protecting the try-line

The nib Newcastle Knights have gone through 134 minutes of football without conceding a single point.

Excluding an unfortunate runaway Euan Aitken try in the narrow victory over the Warriors, the red and blue have shown plenty of improvement in their defence.

The 38-0 drubbing of the North Queensland Cowboys was the biggest victory of the season so far for Newcastle, and many onlookers would have been impressed with the style of attack.

However, it’s the other side of the scoreboard that has brought the most satisfaction to the Knights ranks.

“It was a real good result considering the nil,” Barnett said.

“Our game-cycle is a lot better so we’re building attrition into the opposition, there’s a lot of fatigue and we’re less fatigued ourselves.

“I’ve got to give our outside backs a wrap, they’re catching the ball on the full and returning it and then we’re getting some good impact off the bench.

“It’s something we want to hold onto heading into the back end of this year.”

Barnett: Focus on defence and targeting Melbourne

The return of key personnel and progression in defence has seen the Knights put back-to-back wins together for the first time since the opening two rounds of the season.

The returning Kalyn Ponga was one of the players who made his presence felt in the Cowboys victory.

The 23-year-old put in a man-of-the-match performance scoring two tries and setting up two others.

Barnett was also impressed with what he provides at the other end of the field

“His line organisation is really good,” Barnett said.

“He comes up with some big plays with his scramble (defence).

Hunt: Game 100 and Mann's selection for QLD squad

“From running from one side of the field to the other to save a try or filling in the line and putting inside pressure on.

“The fans might not take notice of it, but we do, and they’re the big plays he comes up with.”

Mitch Barnett has featured in every game so far this season for the red and blue.

The enforcer has been a consistent figure in the line-up and says this is an ideal time for the squad to keep improving.

“We’ve got to keep building combinations,” Barnett said.

“I think the Pearce and Clifford combination (is one), you can see the development they’ve already had in a couple of games.

“It’s a good time of the year to work on fitness, some little one-on-one drills and little extras that you might not be able to during the year.”

Heading into a crunch run of fixtures, Newcastle will look to build on their leaps in defensive areas.

It won’t get any more challenging than facing the red-hot Melbourne Storm next round.

“They’ve been the benchmark of the competition for a long time now,” Barnett said.

“It will be a good test to see where we are at.”