Last week’s stunning come-from-behind victory over Melbourne have bolstered Newcastle’s belief ahead of Sunday’s NRL clash with the in-form Warriors.
With little more than pride to play for in a season that cannot end soon enough, Newcastle players are using last weekend’s stunning victory over Melbourne as a platform for a stirring finish to 2014.
Trailing 24-14 with 15 minutes remaining, the 14th-placed Knights scored three late tries to win 32-30, with skipper Kurt Gidley kicking the decisive two points after the siren to send the Hunter Stadium crowd into raptures.
It was an all-too rare moment of joy in a campaign that has been stained by the tragic injury to young back-rower Alex McKinnon in addition to controversial billionaire owner Nathan Tinkler finally handing over control of the club following a bitter dispute with the Knights Members Group.
Wayne Bennett also announced last month he’d be leaving the club to coach Brisbane next year following an underwhelming three-year tenure, with Rick Stone to return to the position he vacated for the seven-time premiership-winner in 2011.
However, Knights hooker Travis Waddell said last Saturday’s victory helped dispel any doom and gloom hanging over the club in a game he called one of the highlights of his career.
“It was a great moment for me,” said Waddell, who set up the try with a one-on-one strip to steal the ball from Billy Slater close to the line.
“It was probably one of the best games that I’ve played in, especially to come back and win like that.
“I just went in to tackle him because I always knew he was going to run it.
“When I felt the ball in my arms, I just ripped it.
“I ended up going to tackle him, but ended up with the ball and scored a try.”
A talented but inconsistent Warriors side take on the Knights on Sunday knowing victory would move them back to fifth spot on the ladder.
Andrew McFadden’s side welcome back halfback Shaun Johnson from a groin injury and the New Zealand international said the game is a huge opportunity for his side to consolidate their position in the top eight with two of their last three matches of the season at home.
“With the position they are in they are probably out of contention for the finals,” Johnson said.
“But they have a lot of pride to play for and they showed how dangerous they can be last week against the Storm.
“We’re in no position to think it’s job done before we get over there. We have to put our best foot forward and show the right attitude.”