nib Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown spoke to the media following his side’s 26-6 loss to the Parramatta Eels at Maitland on Saturday night.
Brown admits he had higher expectations from his players.
“The first 10, 15 minutes of footy was like a first grade game of footy… Parramatta put out a pretty strong side and we put out what we thought was a pretty strong side, but we just had too many errors and too poor discipline,” Brown said.
“We defended the whole game and Parramatta practiced all their good ball plays, so by the end of the game our fatigue was pretty high.
“It was a good lesson but a tough one for us.
“We’ve got higher expectations than what we’ve had in the past two years with the inclusion of a lot of good players, but regardless of that, you’ve got to do certain parts of the game well.
“Kicking the ball long and controlling the field position is what you need to do if you play good sides like Parramatta and if you don’t do that well and give away a lot of penalties, they punish it.”
The Knights coach maintains losing their second trial match is not a disaster but they’ll have to learn from their mistakes.
“I expected to do a little better and I’d be very surprised if the players didn’t expect themselves to have done better as well,” explained Brown.
“Parramatta are a very good side so it was good to play a team that feel they’re a top side of the comp.
“It has given us a lesson that we may have been getting a little ahead of where we’re at and we’ll soon come back down to earth pretty quick.
“We started the game and had nine players that have never played for the Club before on the field together, against a settled Parramatta team, so it’s not going to be easy for us but we certainly need to do better than we did.”
Despite the 20-point loss, Brown had praise for some of his new recruits.
“I though Junior (Mitchell Pearce) was solid with what he was given to work with and he did come up with a number of good kicks,” he added.
“Our halves never got the chance to build momentum, so on the back of what he had to work with, I thought he had a solid game and all reports from the staff on the field, he was the best talking out on the field about what we needed to do to get out of trouble.
“I thought Herman Ese’ese was really good, Slade Griffin was really good and Danny Levi, I thought that combination was really good and then we had some blokes that had a real mixed bag.
“Kalyn Ponga had some moments when he got into the game, but the moments for our halves and key players were limited because Parramatta dominated the game, due to our poor discipline.
“We kicked really well at times and off the back of good kicks, we gave away some penalties or yardage.
“Kalyn didn’t play great but he showed enough signs for us that he will be a developing player.”
Brown said it was a bit of a shame for all the excited fans who wanted to see a win with their new look Knights team.
“It’s a good footy town, a lot of people have turned up probably knowing we were going to lose a lot of footy games in the past, but certainly we are over hyped this year,” Brown added.
“The fans deserve to have a bit of excitement, a bit of expectation because we’ve gone through a tough time and they’ve all been there supporting us and now we’ve put some decent experienced players on with some good young players so we’ve got a long way to go.
“We will need to be a lot better when we go up against Manly in Round 1, and it was a long hard day for our players.”