NRL 2021: NZ Warriors coach Nathan Brown confident side still on right track despite Newcastle Knights loss

New Zealand Warriors coach Nathan Brown is confident his side is on the right track despite their 20-16 loss to the Newcastle Knights on Friday. 

After starting the season with a hard working and clinical victory over the Gold Coast Titans, the Warriors have been brought back down to earth with a tight defeat to a side that made the top eight last season. 

Brown will lament a poor opening half where his side was beaten to the punch and discipline cost them dearly. 

"I thought they were a bit keener to the punch than we were in the first half," Brown says. "Last week I think we got every loose ball but this week their first try came off Tyson's [Frizell] loose ball.

"Those small areas there, I thought particularly in the first half, they were a little better than us there."

In a tight contest where only goal-kicking separated the sides on the scoreboard, Brown was impressed by how his side responded from a poor start to the contest. 

"There wasn't a huge amount in the game," he says. " I thought we got the first 30 minutes wrong and I thought they were a little better than us at that period of the game.

"We started to get going and got to the front but at the end of the day we weren't quite good enough."

The Warriors coach spent four years building the Knights from wooden spooners to a club on the verge of the top eight when he left. The Australian was proud of his side for the resilience they showed against a team that loved playing from the front. 

"I was really happy because the Knights are really good front runners," he says. " When they get to the front, [Mitchell] Pearce kicking game, the big men on the advantage line they take control, I thought we did well to work our way back to get to the front, we just weren't good enough to quite get the job done."

The Auckland club brought in seven new signings to have them on paper as real top eight contenders and Brown is confident with time they will gel and become a top quality side. 

"We are still learning about each other and the guys should get some belief that there is a footy team within us somewhere there," Brown says.

"We still got a lot of work to do on combinations and learn about each other but the Knights are a top eight team and we all expect them to be there again at the end of this year.

"Their squad has improved from last year and we went three tries all with them and we feel we have a fair bit of upside in us as we are all new to each other."

After suffering injury concerns in the opening round victory that saw new signing Euan Aitken ruled out for an extended period, Brown will be happy to come away unscathed. 

The only slight worry was big prop Addin Fonua-Blake who was forced off in the first half with a calf complaint but Brown reassured the Warriors faithful that he'll be good to go in round three. 

The Kiwi side have a tough next assignment as they try to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they travel to Canberra to take on the Raiders. 

Join us for live updates on March 27 at 5pm as the Warriors take on the Raiders.