Emotional Bennett lost for words
A clearly upset and disappointed Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett was at a loss to describe his team's performance following the Titans’ 22-8 victory over the Knights.
With Newcastle and the wider NRL community celebrating the RiseForAlex Round and the club in good stead after winning their three previous games, the veteran mentor was very frank in his assessment, or there lack of, of the performance.
"We just rained on our own parade. It has just been such a crazy season; I've given up as to trying to work out why [we lost]. There is no reason for that type of performance here from us. I just can't get my head around it," Bennett told reporters after the game.
"I'm more disappointed that we have won three in a row and we turn up here today on such a great occasion and want to repay everybody for their faith and their donations and everything and we just, well... you all watched it and saw it, there isn't much more to it.
"Maybe I'm too hard, maybe there are still issues there lingering with what's happened in regards to Alex so you'll have to ask them all individually because I don't intend to do that."
Jarrod Mullen, who stood in for injured skipper Kurt Gidley after he picked up a groin complaint during the game, described the match as the story of their season.
"We were definitely out-enthused in the first half and it feels like we have to get a couple of points on us before we start throwing the ball around a bit but I thought we were coming back there in the second half but there were a couple of crucial errors at crucial moments," Mullen said.
"Obviously it was a massive occasion for everyone in Newcastle and Alex in particular but we had a job to do there today and we just didn't do it. Obviously we lost Kurt at halftime which was a big blow and a couple of other blokes were down but there are no excuses there, we just needed to get the job done and we didn't."
With the Knights expected to turn up to Hunter Stadium with just a five-day turnaround ahead of them against the Sydney Roosters on Friday night, the challenge has become greater following the reigning premiers’ big 32-12 victory over the Panthers on Saturday.
It could also be a game where they may miss their influential leader Gidley who has played admirably at halfback in recent weeks.
"I don't think it is too serious," Bennett maintained. "He hurt it a little bit at training the other day and we thought it was worth the risk today but it just was too sore at halftime and he lost a fair bit of mobility."