It was a performance that reeked of the Knights of 2016.
The only difference was two years ago, you could actually make excuses for a bunch of rookies battling it out each week against clearly superior opposition.
On Sunday, excuses were thin on the ground after Newcastle’s meek and at times embarrassing 48-10 surrender to the Sharks at Beanies for Brain Cancer Stadium.
Sure, Mitchell Pearce is a massive loss. We know that.
But his absence doesn’t explain the lack of conviction and desperation in defence, the inability to hold the opposition out on the try-line and the failure to defend basic errors.
Pearce not being out there doesn’t prevent 17 players from having a red-hot crack.
His absence also doesn’t fully explain the clunkiness of the side’s attack and the little things that are taken for granted in a game at this level – like passing the ball out in front of players.
That is kids’ stuff but how many times yesterday were players forced to reach behind to pull in wayward passes that slowed attacking movements?
Prop Daniel Saifiti had his best game of the season and skipper Aidan Guerra was tireless once again.
But so few were the positives out of the game, coach Nathan Brown was forced to make mention of the two-try performance from Sharks centre Jesse Ramien, a Knights recruit for next season, when asked for one.
For the first time this season, an opposition blunted the attacking wizardry of Kalyn Ponga.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan admitted he spent plenty of time during the week on how to limit Ponga’s influence.
The experienced of Luke Lewis and Wade Graham on the left and right edge in defence certainly helped their coach’s cause.
“Credit to the young kid because when I was doing our preview, I sort of had to cut back because all I seemed to be talking about was Ponga,” he said.
“He’s had an amazing year so far and we had to make sure we were good on him and I think we did a really good job on him.
“We presented a line and both edge backrowers [Lewis and Graham] have been around a bit and know what they are doing and they did a really good job.”
With Ponga, who spent time in the head-bin towards the end of the first half after Lewis collected him just after he passed the ball, kept under wraps, the Knights attack, which so heavily relies on him, only spasmodically threatened.
There were opportunities, particularly in the first half, on the Sharks try-line but the Knights lacked the polish on the end of many of their sets to turn them into points which is one area that Pearce’s eventual return will fix.
But until then, Brown has a huge job on his hands to lift the side out of the doldrums.
They face bottom-of-the-ladder Parramatta next weekend but as badly as the Eels have been travelling this season, they will fancy their chances after yesterday.
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