Newcastle coach Nathan Brown expects his young NRL side to grow in belief after securing a gutsy 24-all draw with Canberra on Saturday at Hunter Stadium.
Coming off last week’s 48-6 thrashing by South Sydney, Newcastle were down 16-0 after 28 minutes against the Raiders.
But they fought back to lead 24-18 in the 72nd minute before the Raiders levelled with four minutes remaining through Brenko Lee’s try and Jarrod Croker’s conversion 10 metres in from touch.
Raiders halfback Sam Williams and Knights counterpart Trent Hodkinson missed with three field-goal attempts each in extra-time.
The draw was the first in the NRL since the Knights and Brisbane had an 18-all result in 2013.
“We’re really proud of the guys’ effort obviously,” Brown said.
“The commitment and the will to hang in there and fight back and get to the front was great.
“Some of the experienced guys really stood up and a lot of the younger kids did really, really well and that needs to be our standard effort.
“To have all the fans standing up and clapping at the end of the game should be quite fulfilling for the team.”
Unknown 18-year-old winger Cory Denniss scored the try to put Newcastle ahead in his debut game.
19-year-old centre Pat Mata’utia, 19, crossed in the 67th minute to put Newcastle on level terms.
Brown said the performance of his young players would lift the entire side.
“To see those kids actually do that and do it for 90 minutes, I’m sure the senior players will take some faith and belief in it as well because, at the end of the day, you need the team to run out there with hope and actually believing they can win, not hoping they can win,” he said.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was pleased to get away with a point without first-choice injured halves pairing Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin.
“If I thought that we gave up or thought we lacked effort or something like that, it would be an empty feeling, but not at all,” Stuart said.
“I think we did an extremely courageous, tough job in that second half to hang in there. At one stage there they had four penalties against us in 10 sets of consecutive sixes.
“Our defence today was amazing.”