The Mitchell Pearce trend sending alarm through Newcastle Knights
By Nick Kelland
2 hours ago
However, Newcastle Knights legend Andrew Johns thinks the typical sporting cliché doesn’t necessarily hold true for his old side.
Speaking on Wide World of Sports’ Sunday Footy Wrap following the Knights’ heavy loss to the Roosters, Andrew Johns was blunt about the impact that NSW halfback Mitchell Pearce has on the entire team’s performance, as he outlined a worrying trend that could spoil the club’s finals aspirations.
“If you control Pearce and shut him down, you shut [down] the Knights,” Johns said. “They are getting nothing out of dummy-half (Danny Levi) and I don’t think Kurt Mann is a five-eighth.”
Doubling down, he criticised the team’s defensive efforts, particularly up front. “In the middle and late, their forwards looked very vulnerable,” Johns said. “Confidence has now left them, so they really need to find that again.”
Johns’ comments came after Newcastle’s 48-10 loss to the Roosters in Round 18 - their fourth defeat in five games.
“For the Knights to beat the top teams, they need Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga both to have nines (out of 10 performances),” Johns said. “There’s maybe a bit of a false economy at the moment.”
Mitchell Pearce in round’s 7-13 had 10 linebreak assists, 10 try assists and five tries as the Knights won 6 in a row. In his last four games he’s had 2 linebreak assists and 1 try assist for just one Knights win. The Knights go as he goes.
During the Knights’ six-game winning streak through rounds 7-13, Pearce had five tries, 10 try assists, and 10 line-break assists. From a pure play-making perspective, those are elite and league-leading numbers. However, through his last four appearances, he hasn’t crossed the try-line, and has a total of three line-breaks and try assists combined.
Clearly, something has to give, and Pearce himself admitted that “the next four games” will decide his team’s season.