Proud Newcastle mentor Wayne Bennett has labelled Friday night's upset 16-12 win over the Sydney Roosters as the "Knights’ best win of the season", attributing the shock victory to their tenacity which enabled them to the turn the momentum of the game around.
With the Knights were lucky to be down just 6-nil at halftime, after the Roosters were disallowed three tries in the first 40 minutes, Bennett was extremely happy and applauded their efforts.
"One swallow doesn't make a summer. We needed what we achieved tonight and it was just nice to see them get out there and stick at it," Bennett told reporters following the win.
"We had a terrible start but from that point on they fought for the next 20 minutes to get back into the game and then they were in control of the game and they dominated the second half."
With the disappointment of losing their RiseForAlex Round fixture against the Titans last weekend obviously still lingering, Bennett apologised for the win being a week late and maintained he would have been just as proud if they had not been victorious, given their turnaround in just five days.
"Tonight was for Alex but we also thought we owed the fans because we let them all down [last week] and that was pretty much in everyone's mind all week but we didn't talk about it a lot," Bennett said.
In what was a hectic week for the Knights, with Darius Boyd admitted to a mental clinic for treatment for depression as well as Akuila Uate and James McManus being late withdrawals from the side, Bennett credited debutant brothers Sione and Chanel Mata'utia in their first efforts in the NRL.
"They were outstanding. All of them. Sione, Chanel and Jake [Mamo] included. They were playing a quality football team tonight. I thought Adam [Clydsdale] was great at hooker and Gags [Dane Gagai] had to finish up playing five-eighth which isn't his position," Bennett said.
"We had nine NRL players missing tonight and we lost Jarrod Mullen at halftime as well. I couldn't be more proud of them."
While it was a bright night for the Newcastle Knights, a stomach muscle tear ruined Mullen's evening; the injury could see him sit out next weekend's game against the Rabbitohs in Cairns.