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."
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.