Season Summary: Premiers in 2015. The Newcastle Knights achieved the ultimate goal in season 2015 by taking out the VB NSW Cup Premiership. However 10 weeks ago, many would have given them virtually no chance. They started the season with consistent performances without desired results, losing a handful of matches by only one or two tries. They struggled with consistency throughout the season, but certainly peaked at the right time. After going down to the Manly Sea Eagles in Round 25 by 14 points, the Knights crushed them just seven days later in the first week of the finals 45-6. They then went on to avenge last year’s premiership defeat by demolishing the Penrith Panthers 44-12, before qualifying for the Grand Final with a tense 30-26 victory over Mounties. Wyong were certainly the favorites to win the Grand Final, but a solid performance allowed a 20-10 upset to engrave their name on the 2015 VB NSW Cup Premiership trophy.
Coach Matt Lantry said: “It’s certainly been challenging. A mixed season based on results both on and off the field from a club perspective. In our last round we used our 50th player for the season, compared to last year with 36 when they made the Grand Final. It’s been challenging, but it has certainly been enjoyable at the same time, and as a first-year coach, the things that I’ve learned in year one in the NSW Cup has been invaluable for me and my experience, and something I can use moving forward as a long-term coach.”
Best Game: While it certainly was not their best performance of the year, the 2015 VB NSW Cup Grand final victory over the Wyong Roos is unquestionably their most satisfying victory of the season. However, there was also a major highlight in the regular season, which saw one of the most spectacular comebacks in VB NSW history. Trailing 34-12 with 13 minutes remaining in Round 20 against the Bulldogs, the Knights held 100% possession to pile on four consecutive tries and a Carlos Tuimavave field goal to steal the match.
Worst Game: With their top eight hopes on the line, the Knights were incredibly disappointing in Round 23 when they got completely outclassed by the North Sydney Bears. Joel Reddy scored a hat trick in the 52-20 slaughter, which saw the Bears forwards completely dominate the Knights up the middle.
Turning Point: As soon as the Knights began to play sudden-death footy, they thrived. The turning point for them was week one of the finals, as they put together their two best performances of the year, and eventually went on to win the premiership.
Standout Performers: “Jaelen Feeney’s consistency throughout the year has been great. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, after a slow start to the year, has really come on as one of our best players week to week. The emergence of Danny Levi as well, he’s always been earmarked as a future NRL player, but he’s keeping his feet on the ground and he really contributes to the team performance week to week,” said Lantry.
Destined for the NRL: The three Knights young guns proved they are NRL bound after taking their side to a premiership despite their young accumulative age of 60. Jake Mamo, Jaelen Feeney and Danny Levi are three superstars in the making, and should all receive first grade time in the near future.
Future Focus: Winning back-to-back premierships are the goal. Hopefully for the Knights, their new coaching structure in first grade does not hinder their chances to win it again in 2016.
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