Newcastle believe they can be more than nuisance value for opposition teams on the road to the NRL finals.
Newcastle say their rich try-scoring potential has finally been unlocked and the cellar dwellars are confident of proving more than nuisance value for opposition teams on the road to the NRL finals.
The Knights are almost certainly out of finals contention but after breaking a seven-match losing streak against North Queensland last week, Wayne Bennett’s side sense a golden opportunity to get on a run of their own.
Newcastle face a tough challenge against Parramatta in Sydney’s west on Sunday, but the Eels’ defence has been exploited regularly this season.
Then the Knights go to a bye and come back with winnable matches against the last-placed Cronulla Sharks and the battling Gold Coast.
With all the drama that’s eventuated in the steel city this year, it’s easy to forget the Knights were last year one game away from a grand final appearance.
But with Kurt Gidley reinstalled at halfback and Jarrod Mullen and Darius Boyd also hitting form, the Knights lethal outside backs believe tries are coming.
Akuila Uate has scored six tries in his past three outings.
Star centre Dane Gagai, who bagged a double against the Cowboys, says the Knights have the strikepower to trouble even the best sides.
“Yeah definitely. (A win) gives us a bit more confidence,” Gagai said.
“We’ve got to go out and execute every week now.
“Hopefully we can take that into this week because we have a bye following that and it would be good to go into the bye with another win under our belt.
“When we execute our game plan, it shows.”
Bennett said his mind was made up that Gidley should return to the halves two weeks ago, when the skipper moved back to fullback to cover Queensland star Darius’ Boyd’s absence.
Realising how much Gidley was relishing getting his hands on the ball, he decided it was time.
Bennett was pleased with how the new halves combination went on Monday against North Queensland, but most importantly he was encouraged by how young Tyrone Roberts handled his switch from halfback to hooker.
“He’s young so he’ll pick up a lot of pluses and the fact the responsibility is off him he can just run out there and enjoy his footy,” Bennett said.
“Kurt was busier, hands on the ball.”
Gidley is confident he can continue to spark a Knights revival.
“We hadn’t been scoring a heap of points … I think it worked,” he said.
“I haven’t been getting a great deal of runs playing hooker and halfback gets me behind the bigger boys, motivating them and keeping them going – so I enjoyed it.”
Parramatta have lost eight of their past 10 matches against Newcastle.