The Newcastle Knights.

Behind the attacking spark of Kalyn Ponga and flair of Mitchell Pearce, Newcastle's defensive woes remained on show at times last season and needs addressing if the side is to push for a finals berth in 2019.

The three-time wooden spooners improved to an 11th-place finish in 2018, but Newcastle still conceded 607 points at an average of 25.3 per game – second worst in the league behind Manly on 622.

Even Parramatta, who finished the year with six wins, conceded 57 fewer points than the Knights.

Everyone can agree it was a vast improvement for Newcastle based on previous seasons.

They notched up an unwanted record of 800 points conceded in 2016, followed by 648 in 2017 – suggesting the totals are certainly on their way down. But it will take another big improvement for the side to get back to its best in 2019.

Teams that made the finals last season conceded an average of 433.5 points at 18 points per game.

That match average was the same in 2017, while it was 17.5 in 2016.

Premiership winners Sydney Roosters (361) and Melbourne (363) were well ahead of the pack defensively to both average just over 15 points per game last year in the regular season.

The Tricolours then upped the ante to concede just 12, four and six points in the finals series across three games, at an average of 7.3 points per game.

At best the Knights will need to find a way to shed at least 150 points off last season's defensive total if they want to be comfortably in the race for a top eight spot in 2019. That works out to a reduction of 6.25 points conceded per game.

It's no secret the Knights have recruited well, headlined by David Klemmer's arrival along with Tim Glasby, James Gavet and Jesse Ramien.

Newcastle have also brought in Tongan coach and defensive specialist Kristian Woolf this season to help bring the defensive statistics down even further.

The nucleus is now there for Newcastle to roll up their sleeves and plug as many holes as possible to deliver their best season under Nathan Brown's watch.