Predicted Finish: 10th
Actual Finish: 7th
This year was all about returning to the finals for the Knights. I didn’t think they’d do it, but happy to be wrong here. 7th could probably be seen as a little disappointing after their tremendous start, however the building blocks are now in place.
– Brilliant start to the season: The Knights started the season in supreme form. They bounced the Warriors 20-0 in the opener before putting 42 points on the Tigers in Round Two. A 14-14 all draw in ridiculous circumstances followed against eventual Minor Premiers the Panthers. The Knights had no right to be in this game after trailing early, losing their halfback Pearce in the fourth minute and Connor Watson in the eighth minute. Newcastle would then beat 2020 Grand Finalists the Raiders by 34 points to 18. To sit three wins and a draw from four, against two top teams, was beyond expectations. After six games they’d sit 4-1-1 with their only loss coming to the Storm.
– Incredible home form: Newcastle has traditionally been a difficult place to travel, although sadly it had become the easiest away trip on the calendar. 2020 righted those wrongs when the Knights went an incredible 7-3 at home in 2020. One of those three “home” losses would come at Central Coast Stadium too. The Eels and Dogs were the only teams to escape a trip to Newcastle with the points. That’s a more than solid base to build on and something all good teams have in common. Good home form is very important. Looks like McDonald Jones Stadium is once again a tough place to visit.
– Return to finals: To say the past few years have seen some lean results is putting it politely. The Knights hadn’t tasted finals since 2013 prior to this year. All that is resigned to history now as the club returned to finals footy. The fans travelled in big numbers to watch their side run out under sudden death circumstances. Again, this felt like a year where building blocks were put into place. A return to finals footy was a pass mark and they achieved it fairly comfortably. If anything they should have hosted a final. Regardless of the result, you can tick this important goal off.
Watch Zero Tackle’s own Dan Nichols over at Rugby League Outlaws