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Smith furious at fading Knights

By Todd Balym 26/04/2009 06:40:56 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle coach Brian Smith has slammed the fading performance of his side declaring there is no honour in leading and dominating all day only to succumb to defeat.

Smith was furious the Knights let slip a 24-10 lead with 18 minutes to play to fall 26-24 to the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Sunday.

He refused to blame a mounting injury toll for the late defeat believing his side simply threw away a golden chance to record a solid away victory.

"I'm not proud of the way we failed to finish off what was a dominant performance," said Smith.

"If we had of remained dominant we would have iced that game and could have gone home with two competitions points that would have been thoroughly deserved.

"Instead we're going home with a very, very sickening feeling in my guts that we lost to a team we should well have beaten.

"We knew they'd come back and we invited them to come back by some of the sloppiness in our performance."

Halfback Jarrod Mullen battled throughout with a shoulder injury, centre Wes Naiqama (hamstring), five-eighth Ben Rogers (knee) and prop Ben Cross (bicep) all picked up injuries while several other players struggled with cramp.

Smith refused to hand out any compliments when asked if he was proud of the way Mullen played on in obvious pain.

"I wasn't proud of much today," he said.

Despite his shoulder injury Mullen put forward another compelling case for a NSW recall, with former club great Andrew Johns declaring the 22-year-old is now ready for a Blues recall - two years after his shock Origin debut.

"This year the difference with Jarrod Mullen is mental. He has become a much more mentally tougher player and I think this year he is ready for Origin football," said Johns on the Nine Network.

Smith said his side failed to carry on their dominant first half, when they led 18-6, and were also guilty of clocking off early as the Tigers crossed three times in 12 minutes to snatch victory.

"You don't walk away with honour when you get on top like that (and lose)," said Smith.

"You just cannot relax, you cannot shut a game down. With 10 minutes to go if you're leading by 18 you're not safe."

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