Newcastle coach Nathan Brown has praised the contribution of youngsters Daniel Saifiti and Jack Cogger after his team's impressive drought-breaking 30-4 win over the Eels on Saturday night.
Brown said dropping an under performing Saifiti for the Gold Coast game in round 11 may have been a "light bulb moment" for the towering Fijian, who was the team's best in the big loss to Cronulla last week and the best player on the field against the Eels.
"Outstanding, yeah," Brown said when asked about Saifiti's match-winning contribution, which included a powerful try and an equally impressive try-saver on Peni Terepo at the Knights' line. He finished with almost 200 metres to go with 21 tackles and the try.
"The Gold Coast drop may have been a light bulb moment for Daniel Saifiti. He played tonight like I expect him to play. He was pretty fair last week against Cronulla, he was our best player.
"I hope he expects that of himself. Since [getting dropped] he's certainly doing some things a bit different and better.
"Today he was the best front rower on the field by a long way. He was outstanding. As a club we banked on some of those young blokes, we need them to play well.
Match Highlights: Eels v Knights – Round 13, 2018
"That's why we backed them, we had faith [in] him and Lachie Fitzgibbon and Mitch Barnett and them blokes, we put a lot of faith in them. Myself and [Darren Mooney] and the staff, we need them to play like that so we can get results like we did tonight."
Brown also believed Bulldogs-bound halfback Jack Cogger had his best game in first grade, which also included a try and a mature kicking game.
"Cogs had his best game. It shows when players in key positions do certain parts of the game well, how much it benefits the rest of the team. It was by far Jack's best first grade game I've seen him play," Brown said.
He also praised the steadying influence of the senior players in the absence of injured halfback Mitchell Pearce in calming the younger players down at key times.
"Having Aidan [Guerra] and a few [experienced] blokes that know their way around the field... our halves and fullback are very young and even today you can see at times when we have sides in a position we're thinking 'how can we score a try' sometimes where a more experienced player can pull back a touch," Brown said.