Warriors 18 Knights 36
The Warriors' 2019 season needs a major rebuilding job.
It's only May, but already a long way back, after this 36-18 loss to the Knights, their fourth defeat on the bounce.
The home side should have been desperate for the result, especially after coming so close in Melbourne, but the Knights always looked more likely.
They had more power, more passion, more pace and more precision. The Warriors had no real answer; the Knights took control from the onset, and the Warriors were never able to gain any dominance.
The result continues the Warriors poor start to 2019. The situation is not irretrievable – and the acquisition of Kodi Nikorima will make a difference but the pressure grows with each week.
It was a patchy effort. Some good moments, but not nearly enough of them. The Warriors were flat from the start as the Knights took the initiative, and the Warriors weren't quite good enough to win it back.
David Klemmer was an almost unstoppable force in the middle of the park, and his 'follow me' effort gave the Knights great momentum.
And Newcastle had more intensity, more desire and more people willing to do the one percenters, while the Warriors seemed to look for teammates to do the dirty work.
Adam Blair did nothing to lift the doubt around him – giving away two cheap penalties that resulted in points, while as a pack the forwards were outpointed.
The Warriors reshuffled backline saw Gerard Beale start on the right wing (for David Fusitu'a) with Patrick Herbert inside him. Hayze Perham came onto the bench.
The Warriors made a slow start. An early penalty was converted by Kalyn Ponga, before another one saw Lachlan Burr placed on report for a dangerous tackle on David Klemmer, as the Kangaroos forward was lifted above the horizontal. From the ensuing set Mitchell Pearce sliced through from close range; everyone in the stadium knew he would try it– it was a carbon copy of his effort against the Eels last week – but the Warriors were unable to stop it.
Ten minutes had elapsed before the Warriors had even entered the Knights half, but they made an immediate impact, with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck creating a hole for Patrick Herbert, who produced a huge swan dive to celebrate his first try at Mt Smart.
The Warriors were back in the contest, but Pearce was in control, playing the game in a dinner suit. The lack of kick pressure allowed the pinpoint bomb for the Knights second try, reeled in by a leaping Shaun Kenny-Dowall ahead of Ken Maumalo.
Stephen Kearney's men had their opportunities, but they was spoilt by clunky execution; passes were misdirected, and players got in each other's way, before Maumalo's try finally turned some pressure into points, after Hiku did well to knock back a Green bomb.
Maumalo could have had another soon afterwards, but couldn't link up with Hiku after a smart break.
The big winger drew the Warriors level early in the second half – after a show and go from Tohu Harris created space.
But the Knights always looked more likely, though they were fortunate that a blatant James Gavet shoulder charge – that took Burr out of the match for a time went unpunished.
The Knights third try summed up the Warriors day; their defensive line was stationary as Newcastle went from side to side in the shadow of the Warriors' goalposts, before Sione Mata'utia busted two tackles to score.
That put the Knights six points ahead, with plenty of time on the clock, but the Warriors seemed to panic; pushing the pass on early tackles, instead of making the terrority first.
The visitors looked more dangerous, and were rewarded with Hymel Hunt's try, after Edrick Lee soared above the pack to grab a Pearce bomb.
A special Ponga effort – after he ran a great line off Pearce –rubbed salt into the Warriors' gaping wound.
Warriors 18 (P Herbert, K Maumalo 2 tries; C Harris-Tavita 3 goals)
Knights 36 (M Pearce, S Kenny-Dowall, S Mata'utia, H Hunt, K Ponga tries, K Ponga 8 goals)