A REVAMPED Newcastle Knights unit brought home an emotional hometown victory against the Gold Coast Titans yesterday, ending a colossal 336-day drought on the back of an embarrassing wooden spoon finish to the 2016 season.
If nothing else is worse than losing 19 games on the trot, forgetting the lyrics of the club victory song is surely a close second.
Former Knights star and sports presenter Matty Johns revealed the moment Jamie Buhrer, a newly-appointed forward at Newcastle, approached him with a piece of paper with the words to Long Live the Newcastle Knights written down.
“I said ‘yeah,’ and then he holds up a sheet of paper and says: ‘Is this it here?’”
“I said ‘mate, what’s this sheet all about?’”
Buhrer then dropped possibly the most embarrassing line to be uttered in a team’s changeroom after a win.
“Mate, no one knows it,” he said.
“So everyone was standing there with their sheets (singing the song). It was the first time a lot of them had done it, so it was a real good day out.”
Newcastle coach Nathan Brown believes a showing from the club’s old boys inspired his side to snap their 19-game losing streak with a 34-26 win over Gold Coast.
Knights legends Andrew and Matthew Johns, Danny Buderus and Paul Harragon were just some of the names in the sheds pre-game as part of the club’s 30-year anniversary.
“A lot of those guys helped build foundations, which led to premierships in ‘97 and 2001,” Brown said after Saturday’s win in their home-opener of the season. “I’d like this group of players to be the players that lay the basis of the club to have a good era.
“Those old boys, every one of them in the sheds today, there’s not one that’s not tough and a good competitor. That’s really what we’re trying to get to.” Three times the Knights came back after falling behind against a brave Titans side that were forced to play the final 43 minutes with a rotation of 14 players due to injury.
Among them was star fullback Jarryd Hayne, who limped from the field midway through the second half after colliding with Knights halfback Trent Hodkinson. In the space of 11 minutes, the visitors also lost winger Anthony Don and Karl Lawton to shoulder dislocations from separate incidents.
Titans coach Neil Henry conceded all three players could face extended time on the sidelines.
“We’re not real good… you could safely say that none of those three will play next week, and it could be a lot longer,” Henry said.
“We’ll know a bit more in a day or two.
“Jarryd’s hurt his ankle quite bad. A lot of swelling there at the moment but wait until we get a scan and see what’s happened.” Despite their injuries, the Gold Coast appeared headed for a famous victory when Konrad Hurrell scored his second try to break a 22-22 deadlock with 10 minutes remaining.
But Knights centre Peter Mata’utia crashed over from a Hodkinson inside ball in the 75th minute to reclaim the lead, before Nathan Ross sealed the win on fulltime.
The victory broke a 336-day drought between the Knights’ last win, delighting the 12,869 crowd.
Both sides started tentatively before back-to-back tries from short range to Brendan Elliot and Jack Stockwell kicked the home team away to an early advantage.
The Titans hit back with three straight tries, the second of which came from a miracle save from Don that was well over the deadball line.
Both teams traded tries after the break, including an early contender for try of the year.
A Titans play started on the halfway went through 12 sets of hands and two kicks before it found Joe Greenwood to give the Titans a four-point lead early in the second half.
A try to Knights rookie Sam Stone was cancelled out by Hurrell’s second four- pointer, however some poor kicking from the Titans led to the Knights prevailing late.
“I’m really happy for everyone, from the fans to the players,” Brown said. “We had a lot of old boys there today. It was quite evident that winning’s been something that hasn’t been around for a while for a lot of the young kids.”