They may have picked up their third consecutive wooden spoon, but the future shines bright for the Newcastle Knights following a much improved 2017 campaign.
The Knights welcomed two experienced premiership winners into the side in Jamie Buhrer and Rory Kostjasyn with the latter failing to take the field as a result of a career-ending throat injury, however many young guns took centre stage and left their mark on the starting 17. The Saifiti brothers were immense and will only be getting better after valuable experience from the past two years has seen them play a combined 82 games. Back-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon was an incredible standout, with his hard line-running becoming a go-to play for the Knights leading to the long-haired forward picking up 8 tries in just 14 appearances. Young half Brock Lamb had a coming-of-age season, playing 21 games in the halves and dealt with the pressure of leading the team around in the period when Trent Hodkinson was dropped from the team.
The Novocastrians only picked up one win in 2016 but it took them until Round 2 to notch their first points of 2017 with a win over the Titans before picking up a further four victories including a run of three in a row from Rounds 21-23 which included knocking over the Dragons and top 4 finishers, the Eels. Their defence also improved admirably in 2017. Last year they conceded 800 points but they conceded 150 less points in 2017. They conceded just 27 points per game on average in comparison to 33.3 points per game in 2016. While their defence was far from perfect, it's improvement allowed for the Knights to stay in the hunt in tight games more regularly.
Something that cost the Knights from picking up more victories was their mentality. They lost eight games after they were leading at half-time. If they had maintained their confidence and reduced their errors, turning those halftime leads into victories could've turned their 14 points for the season into 30 points - the top eight cutoff. and it is something that could make a huge difference for them in 2018.
Along with the development of future stars within the club, the proud Newcastle fans have reason to be excited for 2018, with the recruitment drive being their biggest for some time. Nathan Brown has raided the Broncos (Tautau Moga, Herman Ese'ese) and Roosters (Connor Watson, Aidan Guerra) to bring in some top talent to join Cowboys' Kalyn Ponga at the club.
Best player- Brock Lamb
Top Tryscorer-Nathan Ross (10)
Top Pointscorer- Trent Hodkinson (97)