Brown says Warriors a good chance to take the title
Knights coach Nathan Brown rates the New Zealand Warriors as good a chance as any in the top-eight of winning the Telstra Premiership.
And Brown's team might inadvertently help the Auckland-based club's play-offs position by knocking over a few others around them near in the top-half of the ladder.
The Knights coach found it hard to fault the effort of his side as they slumped to a 17th loss of the season 20-4, instead hailing the performance of the Warriors back-three and a dominant home side ruck.
He also challenged Newcastle to show the same fight in their three remaining games as they did in Friday night's gritty Mt Smart Stadium match, away to Penrith and Cronulla before they sign off the season at home against St George Illawarra.
"We're playing three top-eight sides and three sides like the Warriors that would be fancying themselves as a shot of playing in a grand final if they get it right," Brown said.
"We'd definitely like to win a couple of games...certainly don't want to finish off the year not winning.
"We'd love to put one of the sides looking to make the top four not make the top four because we were good enough to beat them."
Brown is just pleased he's seen the back of the Warriors and their rampant back three of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, David Fusitu'a and Ken Maumalo.
"We didn't handle their back three as good as we'd have liked. Roger [Warriors skipper Tuisava-Sheck] had a bit of a day out and the two big wingers are big powerful men," Brown said.
"Back threes play such a big part in our contests today and Roger is up there as good as any and the two wingers, they're big, big men, so they've got a good nucleus there to really build some momentum if they have their best players in the field.
"I don't think the Warriors are any worse chance of putting together two of three games than a lot of the other sides in the competition. They're a good footy side, they've got good players in key positions that understand what is required and big outside backs, Tohu Harris and [Adam] Blair, so they've got a bit of big game experience in the pack as well."
Brown was left to rue the moment Knights lock Aidan Guerra somehow spilled an uncontested grubber, bombing what looked a certain try that would have brought Newcastle back into the contest at 18-10.
But he urged patience as the Knights continue their rebuilding mission and start to get players back on deck after an injury-interrupted season.
"I don't think our effort was too bad. There were plenty of people out there that wanted to get the right result but we were under so much pressure that it probably has a little bit of an effect on our attack as well," Brown said.
Halfback Mitchell Pearce didn't get the result he wanted in his 250th NRL appearance but was philosophical afterwards.
"The club brought Mum and my girlfriend in to present the jersey.... I feel proud to play that many games and hopefully a few more, but to have Mum and my girlfriend here and see them proud is the most important thing."
Like Brown, he singled out the Warriors back three for praise.
"I probably rate them the best. Melbourne have got a pretty good back three, the Roosters with Fergo [Blake Ferguson] and guys like that. But with the way Roger's playing at the moment and their two wingers...there was times there they were making 30 or 40 metres in three plays just on their own. "