Mounties run of indifferent form continued in the VB NSW Cup after they were beaten by the Newcastle Knights by 34-22 on Saturday at Hunter Stadium.
Mounties found themselves behind on the scoreboard after only three minutes when the Knights found some room on the left edge and scored a relatively easy try to lead 4-0 with the missed conversion.
By the 12th minute Mounties were down by 16-0 after the Knights ran in two more tries and the signs looked worrying for Mounties who couldn't seem to get out of first gear.
Clay Priest was injected into the game in the 16th minute and he had an immediate impact with some stinging defence and hard running and in the 22nd minute there was some joy for Mounties when Jeremy Hawkins slid over in the corner to open the scoring, the Knights leading 16-6 after Mitch Cornish slotted a great goal into the wind.
Three minutes later it was Hawkins again who caused the Knights defence trouble when he beat two defenders and found Bill Tupou with a nice pass and he dived over to make it 16-10 after the Cornish conversion shaved the upright.
Mounties started to gain some momentum and were causing the home team trouble but an error in mid field put a dampener on their attack and soon after the Knights scored on the opposite side of the ground to lead 22-10 at the half time break.
Eight minutes after the break Mitch Cronin injected himself into the backline and after creating a three on two he looked to pick up his outside man but the pass was plucked out of the air by a Knights defender and he raced 80 metres to score under the posts and it was then 28-10 with the easy conversion.
Mounties seemed to drop their heads after that try and in the blink of an eye it was 32-10 after a short side play caught the Mounties defence napping with the Knights backline interchanging passes to open up the line and they scored out wide, the conversion going astray again.
With 30 minutes remaining and down by 18 it was beginning to become desperate for Mounties and the re-introduction of Luke Page and Kyle O'Donnell from the bench seemed to spark them again with the team producing several raids on the Knights line.
After several rolling scuffles O'Donnell was sent to the bin along with a Knights forward and after several penalties Mounties were able to score through Josh McCrone who opened up the line and strolled over with some nice footwork, Newcastle leading by 32-16.
From the next set Mounties rolled downfield and off the back of another penalty for spoiling Pat Mataele found some room out on the left edge and dived over to make it 32-22 after another pressure conversion by Cornish.
Mounties then had a chance to score in the 72nd and 76th minutes but the last pass kept finding the ground and the Knights were able to scramble their defence to deny the visitors any chance of a comeback.
In the 78th minute an indiscretion in the play the ball gifted the Knights a penalty in front of the posts and they took the two points to close out the game, the final score being 34-22.
The loss still leaves Mounties in second place on the VB NSW Cup ladder but desperate for a win three losses and a bye in the last month.
Mounties next game is against the North Sydney Bears at Aubrey Keech Reserve next Saturday the 13th June with kickoff at 3pm.
Newcastle Knights 34 (K Holland 3, C Mata'utia, J Mamo, C Redmond tries; Holland 5 goals) defeated Mounties 22 (B Tupou, P Mataele, J Hawkins, J McCrone tries: M Cornish 3 goals)