Defensive lapses cruelling lowly Knights

Defensive errors late in the tackle count continue to dog the Newcastle Knights, as they slumped to their ninth loss of 2014 against the Warriors on Sunday.

The Knights found themselves on the wrong end of a 38-18 scoreline at Mt Smart Stadium, conceding three tries on last tackle-plays.

“They are really frustrating those last-play tries, if you are prepared to work for five tackles and then not the last one then it wears away at you,” said captain Kurt Gidley.

“Three tries off last plays…it’s not good enough. We are off the pace a little bit and to leak that many points, that is the most disappointing thing.”

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Coach Wayne Bennett believed that without the last-tackle lapses his side would have been right in the contest, pointing to their ability to come back from 10-point deficits on two occasions to trail by just four.

“The fifth and last plays, it was 18 points from three of those, you take those 18 points back and all of sudden there wasn’t a lot between the teams,” the veteran coach said.

“That kills you when you are playing quality footy teams.

“We fought our way back in the game right up until half-time, and then gave a silly option and they scored right on half-time.

“In the second half we came back at them again and stayed in it for a long period of time.

"We were back in it but we dropped a ball and there was no-one in front of him to the try-line,” Bennett added, in reference to Chad Townsend’s try on 63 minutes, which came as a direct result of Chris Houston dropping the ball inside the Newcastle defensive 20.

Despite what the scoreboard read at full-time, the Knights were the better team for portions of the second period and played some high-quality football.

That point is highlighted by their 84 percent competition rate and the fact that they conceded only one penalty throughout the 80 minutes.

“I think that is my great frustration at the moment, we are in all of the games we play but in some way or another we keep making that mistake that really hurts us,” Bennett said.

“The team is not playing like we are giving up, that is not our issue.”

The match was also the eighth occasion this year where the Knights have failed to score more than 20 points, proving that without some attack to go with it, defensive grit will only get you so far.

“It didn’t feel like we had a great deal of attacking sets and when we did we probably put on some good shape, but it didn’t feel like we were down their end a great deal,” Gidley said.

“It felt like we were coming out of our own end or defending our end for the majority of the game. We put plenty of effort into it and plenty of fight.

“It has been a rollercoaster of emotions so far, frustration to sadness to all sorts of things. Today I just feel a bit empty.”

The Knights take on the Tigers next Sunday where another loss, coupled with a Sharks victory, will see them alone at the bottom of the NRL ladder at the competition’s halfway point.