Knights five-eighth Connor Watson.

Nothing new about Knights' makeshift halves combo

Newcastle Knights halfback Connor Watson remains highly confident his best is yet to come in the Telstra Premiership.

Playing their first game since losing field general Mitchell Pearce to a pectoral injury, the Knights showed plenty of courage in a come-from-behind 18-12 road win over Manly to climb into sixth spot on the NRL ladder.

Watson understands he and the rest of the Newcastle spine of halves partner Jack Cogger, hooker Slade Griffin and fullback Kalyn Ponga have to shoulder extra responsibility in Pearce's prolonged absence.

''Now it comes down to me, Jack, Slade and Kalyn [and we] can all do a bit more game management-wise,'' Watson said.

''It was a credit to us about the courage which we've shown all year and the way we continue to stick into the games has been really awesome.

''With Kalyn there you can just see a bit more class to finish off the games which definitely helps.''

The Knights had limited opportunities against the Sea Eagles, finishing with a 42 per cent share of possession and conceding 11 penalties.

Despite everything going against the run of play, the tenacious Knights never wavered from the game plan, playing with a determination that wasn't always the case in recent seasons under third-year coach Nathan Brown.

''He [Brown] said the way we fought and just stayed in the game was really big for us,'' Watson said.

The Knights had a completely new halves combination going into the Sea Eagles clash in Watson and Cogger.

But while the pair had never played an NRL game together, they are more than familiar with each other's games.

Knights five-eighth Connor Watson.
Knights five-eighth Connor Watson. ©Shane Myers/NRL Photos

''I've known Jack since I have been about fourteen years of age,'' Watson said.

''We played a lot of Oz Tag and Touch Football together when we were younger. We've always been mates, but it's good to have this combination and hopefully we can grow it further over the next few weeks.

''We all know Mitchell is going to be out for a while so we have to accept that responsibility and get on with it.''

After three weeks of road games, the Knights are relishing a return to their home ground for Friday night's round nine clash with the seventh-placed Rabbitohs.

Watson expects this week's preparations will focus on improvements to Newcastle's kicking game.

''We all know that Mitchell can kick from anywhere on the field and kicks very well under pressure,'' Watson said.

''For us now it's about getting ourselves into good spots where we have time to kick and not getting to the edges of play because it gets harder to kick the ball back across the field. It's all about us with game management and getting in better spots to kick. It's going to be a pretty intense game and we are going to be up for it.''