Cuthbertson: We were hurting for Alex
It is amazing how a rugby league team's mindset can change in a short space of time.
The Knights of last Sunday in their 22-8 loss to the Titans were flat, lethargic and sluggish as they looked to celebrate Alex McKinnon's homecoming to Newcastle in the RiseForAlex Round.
Five days later, against the reigning premiers the Sydney Roosters no less, the Knights played for one another in a passionate performance that saw them record an upset 16-12 win.
Experienced Knights forward Adam Cuthbertson believed the disappointment of losing their game against the Gold Coast last weekend added fuel to the fire and helped Newcastle get a win up for their injured teammate.
"It was a funny feeling after last week. We felt we let Alex down massively and in a way we did. We went out there and tried our hardest but I'm not sure what happened. Maybe the emotion got to us and everything like that," Cuthbertson told NRL.com after the game.
"Yet to come off the field and hear 'Macca' [McKinnon] tell us how proud of us he is and regardless of the result to see him thank us for everything we have done for him, it hurt us a little bit inside.
"It just gave us something to work off the back of this week and to get out there and pretty much rip and tear."
While it took until the 78th minute to secure the victory over the Roosters, thanks to some magic from Tyrone Roberts and Joey Leilua, Cuthbertson credited the win as one of the most memorable nights he has had in his three years at the club.
"I think in terms of putting your heart and soul into a game it was outstanding. It took a massive effort to turn it around from last week," Cuthbertson said.
"Putting everything into context with the year we have had and the emotion of last week and then to turn up against the reigning premiers and win was just a tremendous effort for the boys, especially to do it in the last little bit of the game as well.
"I think the last time we played them we went into halftime up and we should have won it but we let go in the second half and this time around it was the other way around. We were down at halftime but we stuck to it and got through it and managed to get the win."
With the Knights’ representative back three of Akuila Uate, Darius Boyd and James McManus all succumbing to injuries or personal issues, it gave the opportunity for young trio Jake Mamo and Chanel and Sione Mata'utia a chance to shine on the big stage.
"I'm just so happy for the young kids that managed to get a shot at grade today. We started off a bit rough there but they just stuck to what they know and they really ground it out," Cuthbertson said.
"They ran the ball really hard and just did the simple things right and it was just good to get the simple rights and get a win for them in their first game of their NRL careers."
With Cuthbertson set to leave his teammates and the NRL to join Super League powerhouses the Leeds Rhinos in the English Super League in 2015, the former City Origin representative hopes to see out his final seven weeks in Australia in as memorable fashion as he did on Friday night.