Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary admitted his side were "a bit off" and it started in the warm-up as his men went down to the Knights 22-20 at Scully Park in Tamworth on Saturday night.
Behind 10-0, Cleary delivered a strong half-time message after a sluggish first-half effort and it worked wonders for the side as they crossed for three tries in eight minutes.
But their quick-fire turnaround was brought undone late by Newcastle, who scored late in the 78th minute through winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall to steal a see-sawing victory.
"We were off the pace in the first half, I thought it wasn't a bad result being only down by 10 actually because I thought our defence wasn't good enough," Cleary said.
"No one likes losing, I certainly don't, but full credit to the Knights, I thought they deserved the win in the end.
"They had all the momentum and were all over us in defence. It was mainly around defence, I thought we were flat. To the guys credit, they turned it around.
"Maybe the rest of the game was an insight that we were a bit off tonight. It does happen, but there weren't any real signs. A bit quiet through the warm-up but that happens sometimes as well."
Match highlights: Wests Tigers v Knights - Round 7, 2018
The Tigers lost Benji Marshall and Jacob Liddle to HIA assessments midway through the first half to halt any momentum early as the Knights jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
"We weren't connected as well as we have been," Cleary said.
"We had a couple of HIA's to key guys – any opportunity we got we just couldn't get it going. [At] 18-10 up, we are probably entitled to go on with it from there."
Marshall felt the side were hanging on to their two-point lead, rather than playing what was in front of them.
"We've done that to a couple of teams where we've come back in the last couple of minutes. We know what it feels like to win,'' he said.
"Although we lost, I thought we learnt a lesson tonight. We've probably been a bit inconsistent over the 80 minutes in the last couple of weeks.
"We made a couple of errors and played negative in the last couple of minutes. They (Knights) capitalised."
Meanwhile, Tigers forward Elijah Taylor will undergo concussion protocol during the week after a collision with Knights prop Luke Yates.
Taylor failed to return to the field in the second half and will be monitored.