No accolade does the Newcastle Knights justice following their heroics at Campbelltown Stadium yesterday.
Courageous, brave and gutsy are words that spring to mind but maybe even they aren't quite enough to encapsulate the spirit of a 14-all draw with Penrith that was a performances for the ages.
Has there ever been a better backs-to-the-wall performance from a Knights side? Eighth Immortal Andrew Johns, who was commentating for Channel Nine, could not remember one. Danny Buderus the same.
No Kalyn Ponga, no Mitch Barnett, no Jayden Brailey, no Lachlan Fitzgibbon and after nine minutes, no Mitchell Pearce or Connor Watson.
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The 2019 Knights would have caved in and been beaten by 50 under similar circumstances.
But despite losing their most influential player in Pearce and one of their most dangerous attackers in Watson and having three debutants out there, Adam O'Brien's men somehow conjured up the energy, fight and self-belief to shrug off all the adversity in a remarkable effort to keep their unbeaten start to the season intact.
They only took home one competition point but it didn't feel that way in an exhausted dressing room afterwards.
O'Brien, who deserves plenty of the credit for turning last season's at times mentally weak rabble into a squad brimming with toughness between the ears off the back of a single off-season, could not have been prouder of his side.
"If you said to me yesterday we were going to lose Fitz [Lachlan Fitzgibbon] in the captain's run and jump on the bus for three hours and come down today and lose Junior and Connor in the first 10 minutes and we were going to walk away with a draw, I would have grabbed it with two hands," he said.
"Look, I'm really proud of them. The toughness was something we certainly spoke about in the pre-season. If you want to feel good, you are playing the wrong game. So get use to it and get through it. I can only pat them on the back for what they did today."
Prop David Klemmer praised the team's resolve.
"If that was last year, we would have went into our shells and it would have blown out," he said.
"But we worked on that in the off season and the culture we are building here is something special.
"I said to the boys that it was up there with the best performance I've been apart of in my footy career. The young blokes stood up, it wasn't just the senior guys and it was great to see.
"We were a bit shell-shocked to be honest when we lost Pearcey and Connor. We were like a washing machine out there. No-one knew what was happening.
"They were coming at us and it was real tough out there for us. But the try to Jacob [Saifiti] right on halftime when we were 14-0 down, that gave us enormous belief and it felt like we broke them a bit. It was a great, gutsy effort. I don't think I have ever been prouder of a footy side to be honest. "
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