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The Newcastle Knights were never in the contest against Manly in Round 21.

Newcastle coach Nathan Brown has come out swinging in defence of his young side despite the Knights falling to their 13th-straight loss in Round 21 of the Telstra Premiership against the Sea Eagles.

Brown blamed the way the club had been run in the seasons prior and said the club is now undergoing a necessary "recession" to make amends.

Their 36-16 loss to Manly saw the Knights equal their biggest losing run in the club's history but Brown remained optimistic over what the future holds.

Brown was forced to play eight players aged 22 or under as well as 23-year-old first-season rookie David Bhana against the Sea Eagles, in what has ultimately been a season where injuries and suspensions haven't treated the Knights kindly. 

"It's not fair for people to blame a lot of the players playing. That may seem a bit funny. But I suppose with what has happened to the club over the past few years, we're basically at the end of a recession," Brown said post-game.

"We've hit rock bottom where we are. It's not a lot of the players' faults that we are where we are as a club. It's not their fault the roster is how it is or that they're all out there playing together at the minute. 

"I don't want to seem like I'm contradicting myself but blokes like Jack Cogger at 18, you can't blame Jack. Or the Saifiti boys and young Josh King, blokes like that. 

"They have made their debuts at a time where the club is probably in a harder position than when the club started in '88. Because when the club started, they had far more mature players in first grade rather than a heap of young kids.

"I know the end result will be good. There's no other way for us to get better other than what we're going through now."


On the game itself, Brown was bitterly disappointed with the way the Knights rolled over for the Sea Eagles in first 40 minutes where they found themselves down 26-0 at half-time.

Brown was disinterested by the Knights' second-half fight even though their late three tries saw them outscore the Sea Eagles in the final 40. 

He also finally conceded however that the wooden spoon is theirs this season. 

"Physically at the start of the game, the first 25-30 minutes, we didn't compete at all. I would've liked for us to have competed better from the start," Brown said. 

"We know we're going to finish bottom. We've known we're going to finish bottom for a long time probably now. But you don't want to be a team where people say 'you've fought back well'. 

"I'd rather we'd die as the game went and we started better. Where blokes like (Daly) Cherry-Evans were too good in the back end rather than the start of the game."

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