The Newcastle Knights have vowed to start climbing the NRL ladder.

HIGH FLYER: Newcastle centre Peter Mata'utia practises his catching skills at training. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

HIGH FLYER: Newcastle centre Peter Mata'utia practises his catching skills at training. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

THE Newcastle Knights have vowed to start climbing the NRL ladder in real terms, not just by default.

Back-to-back wooden spooners, Newcastle leapfrogged from last spot to 15th, above Wests Tigers, at the weekend after banking two points for a bye. But realistically the Tigers have three wins to Newcastle’s two and still have a second bye up their sleeve.

“We’re trying to get off the bottom with playing our football, not just by a bye,’’ Knights five-eighth Brock Lamb said. “So this next block of games, we’ve got to try and get a few wins. They’re very winnable games.’’

Knights centre Peter Mata’utia acknowledged that any subsequent points will be hard-earned, given that Newcastle’s remaining draw comprises St George Illawarra (away), Tigers (home), Canterbury (away), Brisbane (home), Roosters (away), Dragons (home), Warriors (home), Parramatta (away), Melbourne (home), Canberra (away) and Cronulla (home).

“We do have a hard 11 games coming up,’’ Mata’utia said. 

“We’ve got the top four teams … we’d love to get off the bottom of the ladder.

“There’s nothing that we want more than to get off the bottom, and we can’t wait for the challenge.’’ 

Newcastle’s hopes at Kogarah Oval on Sunday could be enhanced if Dragons lock Jack de Belin is suspended for a dangerous-contact charge.

The Dragons have lost their past two games, slipping to sixth on the ladder.

But Mata’utia, who played 35 games for the Dragons between 2014 and last season, was wary of their representative stars, Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell, who play for NSW against Queensland on Wednesday.

 “They haven’t been playing as good as they were at the start of the year, but they’re a great, proud club and they’ve got quality players,’’ he said.

“Duges and Friz always seem to play at their best when they backing up after Origin, so our team will definitely be looking forward to the challenge.’’