The Newcastle Knights claimed their first win in 336 days on Saturday, but that’s only just the beginning for the noble Novocastrians this season.
Two minutes on the clock, Nathan Ross gets the ball, changes direction, bursts pasts a number of Titan’s jumpers to touch down for his second try of the afternoon. 32-26. Kick to come. They’ve done it. The streak is over. Nineteen straight losses, a truly dark period finally closed on the Knights.
But they aren’t going to stop at one win.
Newcastle come up against the Rabbitohs this weekend, a match where they surely must fancy themselves to snatch a win despite Souths heading in the clear favourites. It’s the first time since Round 24, 2015 that both sides head into a round both coming off wins, creating even more intrigue over the clash.
The Knights just simply lift at McDonald Jones Stadium. You need only cast your memory back to the final rounds of 2014 to see how much of a fortress the Hunter can be. In the final seven rounds, Newcastle defeated minor premiers the Roosters, beat Melbourne Storm on the bell, touched up a team carrying Jarryd Hayne in Dally M form, and thrashed the Dragons. Newcastle is set to become a tough road trip once again this year.
Despite the extremely poor season that 2016 was for the club, Newcastle has one of the most passionate and faithful supporter bases in the competition. While South Sydney and Brisbane lead the way numbers wise, but the Knights still have a strong presence.
Newcastle’s biggest problem of late has simply been belief. The effort has never been lacking, but the Knights grew to a point where they simply didn’t what winning was. In fact, for Brock Lamb, Mitchell Barnett, Sam Stone and Luke Yates, it was their first NRL win. The first taste of many to come in their careers.
The Knight’s ability to go push themselves in the first and disappear in the second became uncanny last year, and it appeared their luck had followed them in 2017 when Ryan Hoffman scored the match winner for the Warriors with a few minutes on the clock in the first round. And when Konrad Hurrell scored his second try on the weekend, it appeared déjà vu had struck again. But the Knights finally found a way to win.
The club doesn’t exactly have what some would call an ‘easy run’ in the next month, facing the Rabbitohs, Panthers, Sharks, Bulldogs and Roosters. But there’s no reason they can’t push them to their limits.
Nathan Ross and Mitch Barnett are two of the form players of the competition at the moment, and with the amount of young talent they’ve got with the likes of Brock Lamb and the Saifiti boys, they can truly beat any side on their day. They possess so much energy, enough to trouble any side, if Newcastle can believe in themselves, then they’ll go a long way to avoiding a third straight wooden spoon.