Knights halfback Mitchell Pearce

Whether they can make the finals or not, Newcastle captain Mitchell Pearce expects the Knights to play with the same passion and purpose against Penrith next weekend that they produced in their face-saving 38-4 thumping of Gold Coast at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.

Under the guidance of interim coach Kristian Woolf after the midweek departure of Nathan Brown, the Knights put a tumultuous two weeks behind them to recover from an early 4-0 deficit and post seven unanswered tries on the Titans.

It was a 76-point turn-around after their humiliating 46-4 loss to Wests Tigers at Campbelltown seven days earlier, which ultimately ended Brown’s coaching career in Newcastle.

But it has also kept the Knights in the finals race for at least another 24 hours.

To sneak into eighth place, the Knights need the Dragons to upset Wests Tigers at the SCG on Sunday, hope Cronulla lose their last two games to Canberra and Wests Tigers, then a win over the Panthers at Penrith next Sunday in the last game of the regular season.

"We've got to sit back and cheer for other teams, don't we, so we’ll wait and see what happens," Woolf said post-match.

"It's a much better feeling than what we had in the sheds last week, that's for sure."

After the twists and turns they have taken this season, Pearce said he would not be surprised if the Knights made the finals. And he was confident they could make some noise once they got there, "but all we can do is make our own luck".

"We created a win tonight, and like Woolfy said, we’ll have to sit back and see what comes out of the other games over the weekend, and we've still got a big game against Penrith next week when we need to do the same thing," Pearce said.

"Inconsistency has been a problem for us this year. It's been an area where we've struggled to back up week after week. Tonight was great but we've got to get that same preparation and get that steel again for next week."

Playing with a better attitude, Pearce said Newcastle's win went a long way towards regaining respect among their supporters after their "unacceptable" performance against Wests Tigers.

"We knew it, and Woolfy drove it from the start of the week, that we needed to turn up today and play the Newcastle style, which has been built on toughness and working hard for your mate," Pearce said.

A crowd of just 8,274, their lowest this year and worst home attendance since 1997, braved heavy rain to watch Newcastle’s last home game of the season. That included about 100 former players, coaches and officials for the club’s traditional 'Old Boys’ Day'.

Pearce said he could not blame fans for staying away as a response to the team's sub-standard performance a week ag along with the circumstances surrounding Brown’s departure.

"We're the only ones to blame for that," he said. "The club's not in the best place at the moment, as far as the last couple of weeks go, and there's been some changes and a lot going on.

"But as a playing group, all we can do is come out and put in a performance like that, and do ourselves proud and the team proud, and earn back respect."