NEWCASTLE’S fringe NRL players squandered a chance to force their way into the team to play Wests Tigers at Hunter Stadium next Monday night when the Knights suffered a 42-22 loss to Wentworthville Magpies in the NSW Cup game at Ringrose Park yesterday.
Knights NSW Cup coach Rip Taylor found little to be excited about after the team’s disappointing, disjointed performance, particularly in defence, in which they conceded eight tries and scored just four.
Fijian Test skipper Wes Naiqama was a late withdrawal with a back injury, centre Junior Sa’u had a sore jaw and mild concussion after suffering a head knock, and prop Kyle O’Donnell needed stitches for a head cut.
Sa’u, forwards Richie Fa’aoso, Marvin Filipo, Chris Adams and Zane Tetevano, and backs Kevin Naiqama and Peter Mata’utia have all played first grade this season. Adams, Mata’utia and Kevin Naiqama played in Newcastle’s 32-16 NRL loss to Canberra at Hunter Stadium nine days ago.
They all hope to be included in Wayne Bennett’s squad to tackle the Tigers and help the Knights breathe some life back into their flat-lining NRL campaign in the second half of the season, but Taylor said it was difficult to praise too many players on their performances yesterday.
Taylor said Adams and Tetevano showed some promising signs but, collectively, the team struggled to establish any chemistry or cohesion.
‘‘In the end, all those guys got an opportunity and didn’t take it,’’ Taylor said.
‘‘It just didn’t happen for us.
‘‘We were outplayed in all facets ...
‘‘We were very poor in defence ... and we didn’t play real well as a team.’’
The Magpies joined the Knights on 18 points in a share of fifth spot on the NSW Cup ladder.
Meanwhile, the Knights will resume training today after having last week off, but Origin representatives Aku Uate and Darius Boyd will join them later in the week.
WENTWORTHVILLE MAGPIES 42 (T Savage 2, J Mullaney 2, KJ MacKenzie, N Smith, D Howard, P Terepo tries; J Mullaney 3, J Wehbe 2 goals) KNIGHTS 22 (M Filipo, P Mata’utia, S Likiliki, K Naiqama tries; J Mantellato 3 goals) at Ringrose Park.