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Knights fullback Kalyn Ponga,

The zing Kalyn Ponga is missing is partly because Knights coach Adam O'Brien says he's been feeding his players a defensive diet during training.

O'Brien made no apologies for the stodginess of the Knights display in Sunday's  10-4 loss to the Eels at McDonald Jones Stadium.

He reminded Knights fans of what happened two rounds ago at Queensland Country Bank Stadium with the 32-20 loss to the Cowboys.

"In Townsville our defence got us. I thought if we didn't go back and pick up some of that defence we could get to the end of the year and it could really hurt us badly in a game," O'Brien said in trying to explain some of the flatness in the Knights attack since.

He hasn't scored a try since round four and for the past two games he's had no line breaks or try assists.

Match Highlights: Knights v Eels

"Sometimes the harder you try to get into a game the harder it becomes for you," O'Brien said of his representative fullback.

"And there's no doubt he's a by-product of what I've given the team over the last few weeks in training.

"We'll get better at that [balancing defence with attack] over the next month. If we can get some turnarounds where we can spend some time on attack, I'll certainly do it.

Power and determination from McCullough

"But I stated at the start of the year that I wanted us to be a tough, gritty, defensive team. And I wouldn't think we'd lose too many supporters tonight after that effort," O'Brien said of the six-point loss.

The Eels arrived in the Hunter having won only two of their past nine games at McDonald Jones Stadium. But they've started evening up the ledger now.

"I understand we had enough ball tonight to win that footy game and I need to be able to allow that into our training," O'Brien said.

"But I stand by what I said earlier. We need to be a good defensive team. Defence wins premierships – it's a fact.

"I've kept banging on about defence so it was coming back to get me at some stage."

Still the Knights are without players like Tim Glasby (knee), Jayden Brailey (knee), Mitch Barnett (neck), Connor Watson (ankle), Edrick Lee (arm) and Sione Mata'utia (concussion) and then lost NSW Origin prop Daniel Saifiti on Sunday with a suspected damaged posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).

He would be out at least two weeks, O'Brien said.

"Not giving them an excuse but we haven't done a whole lot with the ball (at training) and I've got six guys out – constantly every week there's changes with different blokes standing beside each other," the coach added.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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