Knights put the steel back in their defence
After conceding a whopping 146 points in four weeks between rounds 9-12, the Newcastle Knights restored pride in their defence against the Eels and Roosters, but Lachlan Fitzgibbon says they must ensure their extra defensive effort doesn't come at the expense of their attack.
The final indignation of the tackle-shy streak was a 48-10 loss to the Sharks in round 12 but Nathan Brown's men have let in a combined tally of just 22 points against the Eels and Roosters in the past two games.
"We were always saying that we could score tries, without stopping them," Fitzgibbon said.
"Now the focus is on our 'D', and we are stopping more than we were, and against the Roosters in parts we were struggling to attack how we wanted.
"It was a credit to them, they had a rushing defence but we probably should have thrown a little different shape at them at times."
One moment that illustrated just how far the Knights have come in defence, was Slade Griffin's bone-crunching tackle on Isaac Liu which denied a certain try on their own goal line.
The celebrations were more emphatic than when they actually scored themselves.
"It was a big play, just at the right time," veteran prop Jacob Lillyman said.
"It certainly lifted the boys, everyone was pretty happy with it, and it saved a try, so it was a massive play.
"That was what's been lacking - those special plays and doing whatever it takes to stop tries."
Lillyman knows the Knights need to keep producing those special plays if they are to upset premiers Melbourne at McDonald Jones Stadium this Sunday.
The Novocastrians got a taste of the Storm's firepower earlier in the season when they were on the wrong end of a 40-14 thrashing at AAMI Park.
"They were certainly on that night, moving us around the field," the former Origin forward said.
"We just let them get out to a really good start there, we got back in the game slightly, but it was a tough one.
"We'd like to think that we have built a bit of confidence since then."
With a two-week break between rounds 15 and 16, Lillyman expects the Knights to throw everything into the Storm clash.
"The week off has come at the right time, as we have a few boys who are wounded and busted, and a few who are nearly ready to come back," Lillyman said.
"Getting a win going into the week off would be massive, but we cannot think of the end result too much, we just need a good performance against the Storm."