Celebrations come to an end for Knights - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Celebrations come to an end for Knights

By Steve Jancetic 03/04/2011 07:00:57 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle coach Rick Stone had been hoping to ride a celebratory mood surrounding Nathan Tinkler's takeover of the club to an upset win over the NRL premiers - but in the end the hangover proved too much to overcome.

Just three days after Knights members handed over ownership of the club to the billionaire mining magnate, and running out before their home fans at a revamped Ausgrid Stadium for the first time in 2011, Newcastle were expected to jump out of the gates against St George Illawarra.

Unfortunately for the 20,986 fans who came along to witness the first game of the new era, reality didn't meet expectations, an early 14-0 deficit turning into a tight 20-18 defeat.

"I was a bit disappointed, I was hoping to get a bit more out of that, to engage the crowd a bit earlier, it didn't work obviously," Stone said.

"Maybe we were a little bit drained from the expectation, I'm not quite sure."

Halfback Jarrod Mullen sensed the excitement building following Thursday night's historic vote - when 97 per cent of members voted in favour of the $100 million takeover.

"All the boys had a big buzz during the week, it just shows how much it has impacted on the town, everyone's coming out in support for us and Nathan ... it's onwards and upwards from here.

"We looked tired (against the Dragons) - I don't know what it was - maybe we got too over-enthused and maybe a bit flat going into the game."

Certainly expectations are now high in the Hunter region - not so much for this season but for future years - when Tinkler's deep pockets are expected to help make the Knights regular premiership contenders.

Tinkler wasn't at the game but Stone said he had been in contact with the new owner about the future of the club, but he refused to speculate on his role beyond 2011.

"It's between myself an Nathan and we're comfortable with where the issue is," Stone said of his own future.

"I've spoken to Nathan a little bit since Thursday's decision ... I'll have a bit more of a chat with him early this week possibly when he gets back into town - possibly put some policies and principles in place on where we're heading next."

Where they are heading next may well involve the man who was sitting in the opposition's coach's box on Sunday, with Bennett rumoured to be tossing up between a move to Newcastle and return to Brisbane.

Bennett however was giving nothing away on his future.

After talking up the fighting qualities of the Knights, he was asked if they impressed him enough to consider moving to the club.

"Next question," was his dry response.

Pressed as to when he would finally end the speculation, he replied:

"I'd like to put myself out of my own misery."

There's certainly nothing miserable about the Dragons after they continued their resurgence following a round two slip-up against Cronulla, the premiers joining Brisbane and Canterbury as the only sides on six points.

The Bulldogs have a chance to go out on their own when they look to continue their unbeaten start to the season against Melbourne at AAMI Park on Monday night.

Sydney Roosters became one of nine sides to have two wins to their name when they beat an injury-depleted Wests Tigers 24-6 on Sunday, while Penrith slipped to last on percentages after the Warriors registered their first win of the season with a 26-18 victory over Cronulla in Taupo.

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