Knights coach Adam O'Brien has lashed his side for their "immaturity" and says they need to grow up fast if they are to get their premiership campaign back on track after another embarrassing defeat on the Gold Coast.
A week after saying he was proud of his players for showing character and grit under adversity against the Dragons, O'Brien struggled to find positives from their 42-16 flogging by the Titans on Saturday.
Explosive backrower David Fifita was almost unstoppable for the home side, scoring three of his side's eight tries in the romp with the Titans well on the way to victory by halftime leading 26-12.
It was Newcastle's third straight defeat and the Gold Coast have now won their last six games at home against the Knights, scoring 217 points at an average of 36 points a game.
They will be boosted by the return of trio Kurt Mann [concussion], Jacob Saifiti [suspension] and Bradman Best [elbow] for Friday night's clash against the Sharks at McDonald Jones Stadium. But they won't have lock Chris Randall, who broke his left wrist before halftime.
O'Brien admitted his side was again guilty of not turning up with an acceptable attitude in defence.
"You could tell where their heads were at in the first two sets of the game," O'Brien said.
"The goal-line defence in the first half was awful. We were just so passive and our edges in defence were no better. We spoke all week about the fact they would shift the footy and come at us. We knew what was coming. It was just a matter of everyone getting themselves mentally prepared to go and stop it. We knew how to stop them, we just chose not to."
O'Brien said the effort was a world away from what's expected.
"Basically all the things we were saying last week we were proud of them for - their character and grit - they just didn't want to bring that this week," he said.
"It shows where we are at maturity-wise. We are a very immature footy team who needs to grow up and grow up fast. We are coming into a big period now. We'll be coming up against some very good opposition and we are going to need to aim up.
"But I'm over the talk, I want to see some action."
One positive for O'Brien was the performance of returning fullback Kalyn Ponga, who, despite being terrorised at times by Fifita, was a constant threat with the footy, especially in the second half.
"Every time he touched it, it looked like something was going to happen,"O'Brien said.
Bench forward Brodie Jones only enhanced his reputation by producing his best game in the NRL while hooker Jayden Brailey was tireless again, laying on a try for Randall and making 50 tackles.
The Knights got off to the worst possible start with Ponga kicking out on the full from the kick off and worrying defensive signs were evident from the first set.
They were down 12-0 early and 26-12 at halftime before centre Enari Tuala had a try overturned by an inexplicable call from the video referee nine minutes into the second half following a Ponga bust. Any momentum a try then would have generated was lost.
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