Stone not concerned by Knights’ attack

Newcastle coach Rick Stone claims he’s not concerned with his side’s attack despite chalking up just six points in their past two NRL games.

After racing to the top of the ladder by kicking off the season with four straight victories the Knights were stopped in their tracks by St George Illawarra’s 13-0 win last week and Cronulla’s 22-6 victory on Friday night.

In wet and windy conditions at Remondis Stadium Stone’s team struggled going forward and had only a Akuila Uate try – his 100th for the club – and Tyrone Roberts’ penalty to show across 80 underwhelming minutes.

Stone made no excuses for the performance but insists there’s no need to panic.

“The last couple of weeks we’ve played in ordinary weather and played pretty ordinary as well,” Stone said.

“I am not too concerned with our attack, more with our defence. Teams are marching us down the field too easily and turning what should be a yardage kick into a good kick and that puts the team under pressure.

“We do need to attack better, that is true, but it’s not our number one priority right now.

“We’ve scrambled well the last six weeks but we haven’t controlled the middle ruck as well as we need to and that is the essence of the game.

“We needed a change in direction in the second half and that didn’t happen and full credit to Cronulla they made three errors in the wet to our nine and didn’t really give us a chance.”

Five-eighth Jarrod Mullen struggled to impose himself on the game and a failed attempt to find touch with an early penalty summed up a difficult night for the former NSW playmaker.

He also left the field midway through the second period with the recurrence of a shoulder injury and although he did return Stone said the problem affected his game.

“‘Mullo’ has a little AC bump as does Tariq Sims and it made it a bit uncomfortable for both boys,” he said.

“Jarrod came off and went back and it’s not so good. But there is no excuses on our behalf.”

News of Dane Gagai’s re-signing just before kick-off was one positive on a disappointing night and Stone said he was delighted the classy centre is staying with the club until the end of 2017.

“It’s good news, Dane is a terrific young player,” he said.

“He’s had a couple of years down here now and cemented his life in Newcastle and it’s a show of confidence for the club.”

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