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Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown reckoned experience was the key to Friday night's win over the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles in the opening round of the Telstra Premiership.

Brown, who was coaching his 200th game, said that last year the team would get into the same tight finish but did not have the composure to finish it off.

''Slade [Griffin] comes up with all the key pressures and then [Chris] Heighington takes a nice settler to get us in a good position after we picked up a loose ball and didn't panic,'' Brown said.

''That's because they've won and been at clubs where they've all had good coaches and decent education. So all those blokes from different clubs stood up when it mattered and were a real key part of the golden point [win].''

After leading for most of the match, the Knights watched on as Manly leveled at 18-all with three minutes left in regulation. 

Both teams had their chances for a field goal before Mitchell Pearce did what he was brought to the club to do.

While the whole team was excited by the nature of the win, Brown conceded that both sides deserved a point in the end.

He described the result as a confidence boost but it was only the first game of a long season for his developing squad.

''There's just so many hard games now in the comp and the bottom half of the competition is far stronger than what it was last year,'' Brown said.

''So I think we showed today that we were a far better team than last year.'' 

Knights back-rower Chris Heighington.
Knights back-rower Chris Heighington. ©Shane Myers/NRL Photos

Pearce described the atmosphere of playing his first game in the red and blue as being similar to a representative game.

''Tonight was something that I've never experienced at club level and the fans got us the win in the end,'' Pearce said.

''The crowd just got behind us and got us to win, so I cannot wait to do it again.''

The NSW Origin halfback admits the attack was occasionally scrappy.

''As a halfback I am thinking exactly what Browny is thinking, we do have some things to work on as it's a long year,'' Pearce said. 

''Parts of our attack tonight were a bit scrappy so I think from a halfback point of view it's a great feeling. I am also thinking how do we get better for next week.''

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