It was another disappointing season for the Newcastle Knights in 2019 with an eleventh-placed finish – making it the second year in a row that they have failed to make the finals series.
Although a slight improvement after finishing with the wooden spoon last season, the Knights managed to string just seven wins up until Round 24 and were unable to record back-to-back wins in its entirety.
A positive to take out of the year was the perfect balance of youth and experience amongst their plauing squad, with the likes of Aidan Guerra, Jamie Buhrer, and Jesse Ramien featuring throughout the season, while young guns Tex Hoy and Beau Fermor impressed with some blistering form
Limited in success they may have been, but there are plenty of positives to take out of their 2019 campaign, with five of their wins coming against premiership heavyweights in the Jets, Bears, Panthers and Wentworthville Magpies (twice).
Their highlight moment
Round 21 v Wentworthville Magpies – 12-6 W
HIGHLIGHTS | Wentworthville v Newcastle - Rd 21
Looking back at this fixture and it could be the game that ignited the Magpies fairytale run to the Grand Final, such was the efforts of the Knights and their gritty victory away from home.
The game was built purely on defence with both sides displaying some defiant defensive efforts on their goal-line, although a near shut-out of the Magpies proved the difference.
It took until the 79th minute for them to crack when Tim Mannah crossed for a consolation try, with Brodie Jones and Zac Woolford working tirelessly with 45 and 44 tackles respectively.
Although it would be their last victory of 2019, it was certainly one to savour and a performance they can take confidence from as they move forward into the 2020 season.
Simply their best
It was a devastating blow for Beau Fermor when he suffered an ACL injury in the latter part of the 2019 campaign but he can hold his head up high with a season to be proud of.
The 22-year-old proved damaging on the edge in his 15 appearances this year, averaging 119m and 30.2 tackles per game – his performances mark a seamless transition from the Jersey Flegg Cup in 2018 where he was voted Player of the Year.
Always one of the hardest workers on the field, Fermor will endure a tough start to pre-season as he looks to recover from injury, but don't be surprised if you see him in the NRL next year, and sooner rather than later.
Room for improvement
The Knights struggled to find fluency in attack throughout the 2019 season and finished the year ranked last in tries (62) and points scored (336).
They impressed on the other side of the ball, however, ranked seventh in the competition for points conceded (494), at an average of 22.45 per game.
If they are to improve their attacking efforts in 2020, combined with an influx of young talent such as Hoy and Phoenix Crossland, it will have them primed for a successful season and a welcome return to finals football.
Soward's season grading
I was really disappointed with their season, especially how their club was going forward and their depth issues were tested quite quickly, but they showed once they got their team back on the field they could compete.
In saying that, at stages I think they relied on those guys too much and that was evident when they weren't playing in the Canterbury Cup NSW.
I'm hoping for bigger things next year with Adam O'Brien jumping on board and hopefully his influence can resonate with both the NRL and Canterbury Cup squads respectively.
This season grading is the opinion of Jamie Soward, based purely on performance factors throughout the 2019 season, and does not nessecarily reflect the views of NSWRL.