Pressure is mounting on besieged Newcastle coach Nathan Brown after an injury-hit Gold Coast downed the error-riddled Knights 38-14.
Brown had reportedly been on notice at the Knights due to their underwhelming season start but appears on borrowed time after Newcastle’s fifth-straight loss and 10th in 12 games.
The omens didn’t appear good at first on Sunday for the Titans, losing back-rower Kevin Proctor (hip/quad) before the kickoff and skipper Ryan James (knee) by the 12th minute.
But the Knights were their own worst enemies with a butterfingered first-half display before threatening a late comeback.
The Titans raced to a 28-0 lead before the visitors finally managed to get on the board via centre Hymel Hunt in the 55th minute.
The Knights scored another two tries in four minutes when back-rower Mitch Barnett caught Gold Coast fullback Michael Gordon napping to pounce on a grubber and star fullback Kalyn Ponga sliced through in the 66th minute to make it 28-14.
But in the end, Newcastle were made to pay for their many handling mistakes.
Newcastle’s error-fest helped Gold Coast to grab a 22-0 halftime lead with two tries scored directly off Knights knock-ons, but whatever Brown said at the break appeared to fall on deaf ears.
Knights halfback Mitchell Pearce lost the ball when he looked to score under the posts in the 46th minute before Gold Coast pounced on an Edrick Lee error to score three minutes later and blow the scoreline out to 28-0.
Knights reserve back Connor Watson was also denied a 60th-minute try due to a double movement after also bombing a four-pointer by dropping the ball near the line in the 17th.
“It’s hard to watch. Newcastle are just shooting themselves in the foot,” Fox Sports commentator Justin Hodges said.
Fellow commentator and former star Michael Ennis agreed, describing the situation at the Knights as “alarming”.
“If they were under pressure coming here today, you can only imagine what it is going to be like under the burrow at Cbus Super Stadium in the Knights’ dressing room,” Ennis said.
— NRL (@NRL) April 21, 2019
“This is alarming. This is really alarming. What has happened in the last fortnight to the Newcastle Knights?
“There is real concern with the style of football and the way they are going about their football at the moment.
“Nathan Brown has been building a roster for a number of years and this one is worthy of far greater than the Knights have produced in the opening 40 minutes.
Brown will no doubt be steeling himself for another week of speculation about his future ahead of next round’s clash with Parramatta.
“We are past being a team looking to … pump our chest out and say we had a go in the second half,” Brown said.
“The start of the game is what wins games for the good sides and we want to be a good side.
“At the moment people are probably sitting back and laughing that I am saying that: we are 1-5.
“But we have got a side with potential in the making and we need to start our games well.”
Gold Coast iced the result with tries to Tyrone Roberts and Gordon in the final three minutes.
The victory marks the first time Gold Coast have won consecutive home games since 2017 after breaking their season duck with last round’s victory over Penrith.
But Titans coach Garth Brennan still had plenty of concerns with scans to determine the full extent of captain James’ knee injury, suffered when he slid into Knights hooker Danny Levi.
The loss of James and Proctor hit a Titans pack who were also without Jarrod Wallace (suspension).