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Knights beat themselves: Bennett

Will Botoulas, Melbourne Correspondent NRL.com Mon, Mar 24, 2014 - 10:00 PM
Wayne Bennett believes his team has only themselves and their string of "ridiculous" penalties to blame following a 20-28 loss to the Storm at AAMI Park.

Undisciplined errors throughout the 80 minutes led to repeated sets of six for Melbourne. The Knights committed 15 penalties in total, including three in as many minutes to begin the match.

"We beat ourselves," Bennett said.

"Fifteen penalties and multiple repeated sets on our try line hurt us.

"We defended well but the quality of footy team that we were playing you’re not going to hold them out long enough ... it was just too much to absorb in the end."

The Knights had just 44 per cent of possession and completed eight fewer sets than their opponents. The result was enormous pressure on the defensive end, with Newcastle consistently forced to defend with their backs against the wall.

That was reflected in the tackle count, which saw the visitors forced to commit 59 more than their opponents.

Despite being winless from its opening three matches of the year, Bennett still took some optimism out of his side’s Monday night showing.

"I take a lot of heart out of what we are doing but I just want us to get a lot smarter and our penalties were just ridiculous," Bennett said.

"They were just things you can avoid doing."

The frustration was echoed by captain Kurt Gidley, who refused to buy into the thinking his side was struggling to adapt to the rule changes this season.

"They (the Storm) seemed to get through it all right," Gidley said.

"I can’t remember the last time we were on the right side of 15 penalties, it was frustrating.

"I was a part of a couple so I’m disappointed in myself, so it’s something we’ve got to address really quickly and move on."

The Knights injury toll took a worrying turn just before half-time, with Alex McKinnon carried off on a stretcher and taken to hospital with a possible neck injury.

McKinnon landed awkwardly after taking a three-man tackle from Storm forwards Jesse and Ken Bromwich and Jordan McLean, which was placed on report.

The 22-year-old was taking to hospital for what is thought to be precautionary reasons and there has been no update on his condition.