Knights v Dragons: Five key points

Knights v Dragons: Five key points

The Knights produced one of the upsets of the season to pip the Dragons 21-14 to put a serious dent in the Red V's top eight hopes. 

Winning ugly feels great

They missed a whopping 63 tackles and were soundly beaten in most of the attacking stats but Newcastle still managed to leave McDonald Jones Stadium with their third win of the season on Saturday.

The Knights have put in better performances and lost in 2017, and the ability to win ugly on Saturday afternoon left coach Nathan Brown smiling from ear to ear. 

"You look at the Broncos game and the Canterbury game – our last two games - we probably played far better," Brown said.

"If I'm honest, I thought we were a fair way off in some areas today. We had a lot more one-on-one misses, the finishes to our sets [weren't great], there were probably four or five times where they went 50 or 60 metres [off our kicks] but what we did was we found a way to stop them and found a way to win. 

"I'd rather win a game like that than win with free-flowing beautiful football because for the younger guys… that's what rugby league's all about."

Dragons their own worst enemy 

St George Illawarra's attacking masterclass against Manly in Round 20 seems like a lifetime ago after the Red V came up with 15 errors in one of their worst performances of the season. 

Last week's win was meant to revive their season but Saturday's result leaves them on 24 competition points and only ahead of the ninth-placed Panthers on for-and-against.

"Look, 63 per cent [completion rate] in the NRL is not to standard. We didn't take the chances that we created and we didn't get the balance of playing tough and taking smart risks that we needed to take," Dragons coach Paul McGregor said. 

"I said it's too far between our best and our worst and today was a lot closer to our worst. There are some disappointed people and I'm one of them."

Brock Lamb far from sheepish in star showing

He came under fire for a botched kick and a missed penalty goal against the Bulldogs a few weeks ago, but it hasn't taken long for youngster Brock Lamb to remind his critics why he's been handed a shot in the NRL.

According to Brown, the young playmaker has been thrust into the deep end before his time, but Lamb defied his age with a try and an assist early in the first half and backed it up with 19 tackles to guide his side to victory. 

"He had a very good defensive game, he kicked the ball really well and he was error-free," Brown said. "That's a really good response from him after he's had a tough few weeks so that makes me feel happy for him."

Offloads prove to be a double-edged sword

It's become a strength of theirs but the Dragons must be wary of over-playing their hand when it comes to second-phase football. 

The Red V obliterated Manly on the back of 21 offloads and won the count 17-5 on Saturday, but it seemed some of those passes were just for the sake of it with little benefit gained from dumping it out the back.

The Dragons even made a couple of errors with players unaware the ball was being shot out the back, so while it's a good weapon to have, it's something they have to work on in the weeks to come. 

Threat of the spoon not motivating the Knights

They've claimed the dreaded wooden spoon for the past two seasons but Knights co-captain Jamie Buhrer says avoiding the unwanted 'woodware' isn't a factor heading into the final five rounds. 

The Knights are now within two competition points of the 15th-placed Wests Tigers and have a very winnable game at home against the struggling Warriors next week. 

"Obviously no one wants the wooden spoon but it's certainly not something that's spoken about," Buhrer said.

"We've just had our third win and now we'll all have a beer and enjoy that and then it's back to work on Monday. We've got the Warriors next week and we'll try to win that too."