SENIOR Knights backs Jarrod Mullen and Timana Tahu have described their 42-20 loss to Manly at Brookvale Oval yesterday as ‘‘one of those days’’ when nothing went right.
The Knights never recovered from Tyrone Roberts kicking off out on the full, as the defending NRL premiers and title favourites scored seven first-half tries to lead 38-4 at the break.
Tahu spilled an early bomb and was guilty of an incorrect play-the-ball which contributed to the Sea Eagles dominating early possession and establishing a 12-0 lead, and Mullen missed a tackle on giant Manly second-rower Tony Williams that led to the first of his two tries.
Even when the Knights created scoring chances, fullback Darius Boyd was penalised for a double movement and Zeb Taia had a try disallowed because his feet were on Manly’s dead-ball line as he grounded the ball.
Newcastle scored three tries in a 12-minute burst midway through the second half to give themselves a faint hope of staging a miraculous fightback but the Sea Eagles withstood the challenge and finished with a late try to winger Jorge Taufua.
‘‘We’ve done that a few times this year ... We’ve been trying to sort that out – why we do have the slow starts, and we’re still working on it – but it’s no excuse,’’ Tahu said at the team’s recovery session this morning.
‘‘We played poorly in the first half and we had to put a bit of pride back in in the second half, and we did end up getting 20 points, but the game was well over by then.
‘‘It was just one of those days that we started slow, and that’s all I can remember about it ...’’
Tahu described the bomb he dropped as a ‘‘bread-and butter catch’’ and one that he and his back-line partners practised at every training session.
‘‘For me, I’ve caught harder kicks than that, but it was just one of those days where you take your eyes off the ball one minute and the ball rolls in their favour at Brookvale,’’ he said.
‘‘It was there, and it was something I was pretty peed off about.’’
Mullen said the team’s preparation had been spot-on but they were powerless to stop the defending premiers at the peak of their powers.
‘‘They were fired up, obviously. They’re hitting some good form at the right end of the season and I wouldn’t be surprised if they went all the way – they’re a great team,’’ Mullen said.
‘‘Playing at Brooky on a Sunday, we thought we’d be up for it, but you can’t give any side in the NRL 38 points head start, so it wasn’t good enough.
‘‘It didn’t start off well, kicking out on the full, and we didn’t touch the ball for the first 10 minutes and they just got that roll on.
‘‘Darbs (Boyd) had that penalty when he went for the try, and Zebby’s try, his foot went over [the dead-ball line], so nothing was going right. But some days you have that, and I’ve had plenty of them, so you’ve just got to take it on the chin.’’
Sitting 11th on 24 points, and facing games against the Cowboys in Townsville on Saturday night and the Rabbitohs at Hunter Stadium the following Friday night, Mullen and Tahu conceded the Knights need a miracle to make the finals.