Adam O’Brien has apologised to Newcastle fans after his club turned in its worst home performance of his tenure in a 39-2 flogging from Parramatta.
The Knights were never in the contest at McDonald Jones Stadium, letting in six tries and barely troubling the Eels’ line at any point.
It marked easily their worst match of the season, as the club slumped to a fifth straight loss and with a difficult date against Melbourne next Sunday.
“Sorry,” O’Brien said when asked what he had to say after the match.
“To the 25,000 (who turned up), to put in that performance. There’s not much to be proud of at the moment.”
The defeat was the Knights biggest at home since 2018, with the club having prided itself on its resilience since O’Brien took over at the start of 2020.
Newcastle captain Kalyn Ponga also admitted he was embarrassed by the loss, just days after inking a new five-year deal with the NRL club.
And while Knights fans will no doubt question his $6 million contract with that result just five days later, he had little opportunity to have an impact in the lacklustre display.
Parramatta had just 17 tackles on the Knights line for their six tries, with the Knights unable to withstand any real attacking pressure.
The tone was set in the 12th minute when Shaun Lane easily ran through a David Klemmer legs tackle to take the lead.
Lane was able to offload for another close to the line, while Isaiah Papali’i also bagged a second-half double with both from close distance.
“(The defence) was not acceptable. Not at this level,” O’Brien said.
“It’s got nothing to do with personnel or injuries. It’s just not acceptable at this level and we know that.
“It’s not the sort of performance we want to put in defensively anywhere, let alone here at home with 25,000 people watching up.
“It was easily the hardest (losses) we have to take for a while. We have to dig deep and get ourselves out of it.”
Parramatta by contrast have no such concerns.
After Reed Mahoney admitted during the week their defence had slumped to among the worst in the NRL, they barely had their line broken on Sunday.
Instead they picked the Knights apart with ease, as Dylan Brown moved to left centre due to a backline shortage and he and Jake Arthur’s edge had a field day.
Mahoney was also brilliant, clearly spotting gaps in the Knights line and targeting tired defenders.
The win lifted the Eels safely into the top four, well aware it was their most complete performance of the year.
“I’m just happy with the overall professionalism,” coach Brad Arthur said.
“We still played plenty of footy, we still threw the ball around.
“But we were patient and earned the right. Very happy with the two points.”