Stand-in Newcastle Knights captain Aidan Guerra said his side made the Rabbitohs look like ''world beaters'' in their loss at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.
A crowd of almost 23,000 were in full voice from the opening whistle, but the Knights players got off to a decidedly slow start before falling to a 36-18 loss to the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Guerra rates the Rabbitohs as a side, but said his men made life too easy for them on more than one occasion.
"We were rolled by good opposition, but we made them look like world beaters," Guerra said.
"There was just a lack of urgency and execution.
"There's some players, myself among them, that have to take a hard look at our performance and endeavour to do well next week."
Knights coach Nathan Brown said the slow start his side endured made a tough job all-the-more difficult.
"We need to start games better," Brown said.
Match Highlights: Knights v Rabbitohs - Round 9, 2018
"It wasn't a great start for us, and that put us on the back foot. They are a good footy team and got their share of points, but they would be worried about our attack as well, we caused them plenty of trouble as well.
"It's the defensive part of the game that we have got to get better. And our kicking game, missing Mitchell [Pearce] and Brock [Lamb], we need to get better at that. They had Adam Reynolds and he's a sensational kicker and we needed to be better in that area."
Brown jumped to the defence of winger Ken Sio following his unhappy night.
The former Parramatta winger spilt the ball in what appeared a certain try-scoring position early in the second half, only to follow that up by dropping a kick moments later which resulted in a South Sydney try to Dane Gagai.
"A lot of people will focus on Kenny's drop, and of course you can't afford to do that at this level,'' Brown said. "But at the end of the day, we still got the game wrong at the start.
"If we had got the game right at the start, and Kenny did what he did, it does not have the same impact.''
The Knights' mentor has put the slow start down to poor defence in the middle of the field, but despite the result Brown was impressed by several individual performances in his side.
"I thought Connor [Watson], his attack was good as well – he was dangerous," Brown said.
"Sione [Mata'utia] had his best game – he was marking a fair player in Greg Inglis. [Mitchell] Barnett it was his best game, so we had some blokes who had their best games of the year."
Young fullback Kalyn Ponga was again outstanding for the Knights in attack, prompting Brown to declare he's "just too good, isn't he!"
Knights press conference - Round 9