The Newcastle Knights’ NRLW squad has a habit of etching its name in the record books these days.
And, the Ronald Griffiths-coached outfit is on the verge of chalking up another first.
After securing a maiden home semi-final later this month, Newcastle could also land its inaugural minor premiership with a victory over the Wests Tigers at the Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Thursday 14 September.
The Knights currently sit atop the Telstra Women’s Premiership ladder with 14 points, two ahead of the Sydney Roosters and Gold Coast Titans, with one round remaining.
“I’m proud of the girls,” Griffiths said.
“Hosting an NRLW play-off at McDonald Jones Stadium is a first of its kind in Newcastle.
“This group of players won a grand final last year and created history.
“Now, they get an opportunity to do it again with a home semi-final.
“But, despite that great achievement, we won’t lose sight of the bigger picture either.
“The job’s not done yet, however it’s something special for Newcastle, especially after seeing the buzz the NRL boys generated around the Hunter recently.
“Hopefully, we’ll see a big crowd cheering the NRLW team on, too.”
Newcastle served a major warning in its previous hit-out, knocking over competition favourites, the Roosters, 20-4 at the weekend.
Classy fullback Tamika Upton posted a double, with Jasmin Strange and Jesse Southwell also grabbing tries.
What pleased Griffiths most, however, was keeping the Sydneysiders to just four points.
“I thought our defensive grit and resolve was fantastic,” he said.
“And, there were some really good individual performances in attack but we didn’t quite nail our execution, which we spoke a lot about in detail.
“However, we’ve built the past four weeks on being able to be a great defensive unit and I think we displayed that against the Roosters.
“During that period, we have been in deep water, playing sides that have kept coming for us.
“We knew that wasn’t going to change (on Saturday); we’ve seen it before.
“But, we’ve been through it.
“We experienced it 12 months ago when we played Parramatta [here] and we built a lot of our defensive DNA off the back of that, continually turning up for each other.
“To be honest, we’re nowhere near the finished product.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do.
“However, I just love the fact that the team is so hungry to keep being challenged, being held accountable.
“They hold us [coaches] accountable and they want to learn and grow and develop.
“Their thirst for knowledge is second to none in terms of sides that I’ve coached.
“So, that’ll hold us in good stead at the back end of the year.”
For more sports stories:
- REAL NRL: Lantry fears for President’s Cup future after Thirroul’s shock forfeit
- NRL: Knights’ gutsy finals crusade continues
- VIDEO: Ugly crowd brawl mars Newcastle league decider
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