Knights prop Daniel Saifiti.

Newcastle coach Nathan Brown is quick to point out the Knights are still developing, despite their strong start to the season.

While the Knights have had some impressive wins in 2018 over the Raiders, Broncos, Tigers and twice over Manly, the last two matches have brought them back to earth.

Playing without star halfback Mitchell Pearce, who is on the long-term injury list, the red and blues have slumped to disappointing home losses to the Rabbitohs and Panthers.

"At the end of the day, we are still a developing side," Brown said.

"Sitting here today we are five and five, and that probably reflects on how we are going, so I think we are going okay.

"In the games that we have won this year, we have defended well because we never had those players that have had really bad moments."

He put the loss to Souths down to a lack of effort, which brought about several personnel changes.

Brown was happier with his team's effort in Friday night's loss to Penrith, but poor discipline cost the Knights at crucial stages.

"So all the good stuff comes undone," he said.

Knights five-eighth Connor Watson.
Knights five-eighth Connor Watson. ©Paul Barkley/NRL Photos

"Josh King, it was his first game of the year. He had some good stuff, but he gives two tackle-five penalties. Daniel Saifiti coming out of trouble had two drop balls. It's not first grade football when you do that.

"But at the end of the day we are still finding our way I suppose."

Brown has used four different players in the halves this season and admits it has been difficult to build consistency in the absence of the injured Pearce.

"We are very young in the halves and I thought that showed [against Penrith]," he said.

"We have had some periods where we have done reasonably well without him, but we didn't really respond well to their line speed.

"A bit of that is experience, and Brock [Lamb] and Connor [Watson], if they have another game together, I am sure they can get a bit more momentum and form a better combination together."