KNIGHTS coach Nathan Brown admitted some of his players “gave up” as the scoreline mounted during Sunday’s 42-6 trouncing by Penrith at Hunter Stadium.
Newcastle emerged from a hard-fought first half with a share of a six-all scoreline, only to unravel after conceding a try to Penrith skipper Matt Moylan early in the second stanza.
The Panthers racked up a further five tries on a day that Brown compared with the 30-18 loss to St George Illawarra in round 16 as Newcastle’s most disappointing display of the season.
In the second half, I thought there was a period there where we actually gave up.NATHAN BROWN
“In the second half, I thought there was a period there where we actually gave up,’’ Brown said. “That was really disappointing, and not good for anyone involved, I don’t think.
“When I say I think we gave up, there have been times during the year when we’ve just been physically beat up and you can accept that a score blows out … we were obviously outclassed by some skilful players at times today, but I just thought there were areas today where some of the defensive things we did just weren’t to the standards they should be, or were in the first half.’’
Brown said Knights fans were “entitled to be disappointed” with this new nadir of the worst season in the club’s history.
After one win and a draw from their first 21 games, Newcastle have strung together a club-record 15 consecutive losses.
The Roosters’ 22-10 win against North Queensland in Sunday’s late game confirmed that the Knights will retain the wooden spoon.
“They [the fans] have supported the team very, very well this year, I feel,’’ Brown said. “I thought today was just not anywhere near what we’ve got to build as a club to make the club be successful again.’’
Knights skipper Trent Hodkinson chose his words carefully, saying “some of those tries they scored were very disappointing”, but stopped short of endorsing Brown’s opinion that players had given up.
In contrast to Newcastle’s disconsolate media conference, the Panthers were upbeat after consolidating their hold on seventh position.
Nonetheless, Moylan conceded his team will face tougher tests in the weeks ahead.
“In the back end of the year, in the crunch games, you can’t give a side that many opportunities,’’ he said.
All Penrith’s tries were scored by outside backs. Wingers Josh Mansour and Dallin Watene-Zalezniak both grabbed doubles, while Moylan, Waqa Blake and Tyrone Peachey also crossed.
Halfback Nathan Cleary kicked seven goals from eight attempts.