Desperate Knights look like getting Ponga back
NEWCASTLE star Kalyn Ponga is expected to return from a calf injury for next week's crunch NRL clash with the Sydney Roosters, as the Knights struggle for answers following their capitulation to Canterbury.
Nathan Brown's side find themselves in a hole after their upset loss to the Bulldogs left them with just one win - against a disappointing Brisbane outfit - from their past four starts.
By Brown's own admission, the Knights imploded in the final 20 minutes at McDonald Jones Stadium, giving up three tries and shooting themselves in the foot with their own ill-discipline and poor decision-making.
Brown refused to criticise the referees for sin-binning prop James Gavet for a late shot on Chris Smith, pointing out NRL head of football Graham Annesley had made public their desire to drive the practice out of the game.
With Gavet off the field, the Dogs ran in tries to Corey Harawira-Naera and Reimis Smith to seal the victory after earlier trailing 8-0.
Sione Mata'utia had a night to forget, kicking out on the full following Harawira-Naera's four-pointer, and knocking on on his own goal-line, which led to Smith's try.
"We had some changes over the last five weeks with injuries and suspensions and people changing position all the time, Kurt (Mann) and Connor (Watson) always playing different positions," Brown said.
"I was just hopeful of grinding out a win to be honest with you and getting back on the horse and getting a bit of cohesion in the back end of the year.
"When your energy levels are down a touch, and Canterbury always play with good energy, our attack was not where it needed to be. Our attention to details wasn't as good as where it has been this year."
Brown said having four players - Mitchell Pearce, David Klemmer, Daniel Saifiti and Tim Glasby - backing up two days after the Origin decider didn't contribute to their poor performance.
He also said Ponga, who missed State of Origin game three with a calf injury, would likely return against the premiers at the SCG.
"He'd be more than likely," Brown said.
"He finished up his rehab today and he'll start training with the team on Monday.
"It'll be good to get him back and (Mitchell Barnett's) suspension is done, it'll add a bit more stability to the team."