Gritty Knights NRL win a reward for fans

Knights coach Nathan Brown has described his team’s gritty 18-16 victory over Wests Tigers as just reward for their parochial, patient supporters.

Newcastle were last on the ladder after four losses and a draw from their first five games but a crowd of 21,653 packed into Hunter Stadium on Sunday to cheer the Knights to their first win of the season.

Both sides had chances after Jordan Rankin’s second try for the Tigers closed the gap to 18-16 in the 56th minute but the Knights defended grimly to also give Brown his first win as Newcastle coach.

“When you’re sitting on the bottom of the table and nearly 22,000 people turn up, you’ve got to be very, very happy for the fans,” Brown said.

“I think we’ve played far better this year and lost and played better and drawn but we managed the last seven or eight minutes of the game quite well and I did think we deserved the win.

“I thought we were the better team, even though neither team was great.”

Captain Trent Hodkinson believed the win would boost Newcastle’s confidence after some near misses in the first five rounds, including a 24-all draw with Canberra and an 18-14 loss to Melbourne after the Knights led 14-6 late in the game.

“I think the effort we put in last week against the Storm for most of the game, we took a lot of confidence out of that, but the way we finished that game last week wasn’t good,” Hodkinson said after his first win in Newcastle colours.

“The pleasing thing this week was we fought at the back end of the second half right to the end.

“That was a positive from my point of view, that the boys ripped in right to the 80th minute in front of the home fans.”

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