After a tight edge-of-your-seat thriller, the Newcastle Knights in consecutive years are eliminated in the opening week of the finals.
After the Eels stole the lead at halftime 16-10, they struck right away in the second half to take it to 22-10, only for Newcastle to strike back with Enari Tuala’s second half double to make it 22-20. Parramatta’s controversial penalty try sealed their fate to win 28-20.
Before I go on any further, I have a statistic to share. Enari Tuala is the first ever Newcastle Knights player to score a hat-trick in a finals match.
Overall, I am proud of my team and unlike last year, this year they truly fought to get back in the game but it just wasn’t meant to be. Well done, Parramatta.
The Knights are nowhere near that team that won three wooden spoons in a row or that team who five years ago only managed to win just one game. We have come really far and as I mentioned before, the rebuilding is done.
When it comes down to the winning culture, that is slowly returning and the key word is slowly. We are on the rise and indeed the tide has turned for us. To quote the legendary Bob Dylan, the times, they are a-changing.
If there’s any ‘rebuilding’ that needs to be done, it would be to make the winning culture we once had into a trademark like we had in our glory years. Clubs like Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters have got that and the Penrith Panthers have now staked their claim to it.
For a team with a lot of injury disruptions, we really did a magnificent job. Considering we were without our first choice five-eighth (Blake Green) and fullback (Kalyn Ponga) in the opening rounds of the season, we still did well; and let’s not forget the injuries Mitchell Pearce suffered seeing him miss half the season.
The mid-season acquisition of Jake Clifford was a difference maker.
After playing 25 games – 24 regular season matches and our finals encounter – now the boys can rest up and when the pre-season strikes, they’ll be ready to roll and prepare for next season.
Our first choice spine for next season will be:
Kalyn Ponga – fullback
Jake Clifford – five-eighth
Mitchell Pearce – halfback
Jayden Brailey – hooker
A well-trained pre-season together will see them work on their combinations and deliver the damage we know they can.
As for the rest of this season, I’m calling for Melbourne to claim back-to-back premierships and Ryan Papenhuyzen to claim back-to-back Clive Churchill Medals.
For us Knights fans, we are all disappointed and some may even be a bit pissed off. Let’s be proud of our team for making the finals in consecutive years and this season could be the stepping stone towards a brighter future for our team.
Adam O’Brien has been a brilliant coach for us thus far and is proving to most of us he is the coach we need.
To the players, we understand how much it hurts but you guys played your guts out and even though you didn’t win, you still made the eight.
Now to all Knights fans and staff, enjoy the off-season and I shall see you at Marathon next year.