It was a scrappy win by the Sydney Roosters but no-one can take away the heart and resolve shown by the Newcastle Knights against superior opponents at Allianz Stadium last night.
Outgunned and with fewer top players than their opponents, the 29-12 scoreline in favour of the Roosters came after a late flurry of tries by the Tricolours but it was the Knights resolve that has a lot of people talking.
Languishing at the bottom of the ladder after several off-field incidents this year – the recovery of Alex McKinnon and the departure of Nathan Tinkler as owner especially – the Knights refused to give in and fought until the end.
In particular, rising star Jake Mamo made his presence felt, scoring a try and working his backside off on the wing to try and create something.
The loss now means the Knights are outright last, after the Cronulla Sharks scored two points courtesy of the bye this week.
It was not all sunshine and roses for the Roosters, though, who went into half-time trailing – the Knights resolve again showing through – as the error rate and lack of completion on the Roosters part was evident throughout.
The second half was a different story, though, as whatever coach Trent Robinson said clearly worked.
They may have won 7 of their last 8 games after last night’s win but Robinson was quick to point out just how much his side has to improve moving forward.
“We got to our kicks in the second half and made some nice attacks,” Robinson said.
“There was some good footy and some disappointing footy at different times but we righted some wrongs in the second half. On results, we have been good but, on form, we’ve only been OK.
We’ve done some good stuff, shown why we’re a good team but haven’t been hard-nosed enough. But there is a lot of time to go between now and the end of the season. We can get better.”
As for Knights coach Wayne Bennett, he knows the lack of execution in the second half cost his side and with some crucial players missing, he believes the side was lacing confidence.
“There hasn’t been a game all year we haven’t been in. We just keep finding a way to get out of it,” Bennett said.
“It turned on two kicks where we dropped the ball – it just killed us. We were doing so well but gifted them two tries and it’s gone from 12-6 up to 18-12 down and made it hard for them after that. But we’re depleted, they’re trying hard and errors hurt us.”
3. James Maloney
2. Jake Mamo
1. Issac Liu