Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary knew the bubble was going to burst at some point this NRL season.
The Tigers appeared on their way to extending their winning streak to four on Saturday before Newcastle stormed back to steal the two points at the death in Tamworth.
They had fought back from a 10-point deficit at halftime to lead by six with 10 minutes to go, only to allow the Knights to cross twice late and claim a miracle win.
The result puts the brakes on the Tigers' best start to a season since Western Suburbs and Balmain merged together 18 years ago, having won five of their opening six matches.
Asked if a flat spot was inevitable, Cleary said: "Yeah it always comes but there wasn't any real signs. (We were) a bit quiet through the warm-up, but that can happen sometimes as well."
Cleary said they were off the pace in the first half, where they were also hampered by head injury assessments to key men Jacob Liddle and Benji Marshall.
He was relieved to be only down by two tries at the break.
"We just couldn't quite get it going. I was really happy the start of the second half. (At) 18-10 up, you're probably entitled to go on with it from there," he said.
"But we just had a couple of really bad errors and just a bit of discipline issues, penalties, and invited them in. And they played pretty well down our end of the field."
Marshall urged his team to heed the disappointment of another inconsistent performance.
"We've done that to a couple of teams though, where we've come home and scored in the last minute. We know what that feels like to win," he said.
"Although we lost, we learnt another lesson tonight where we've been a bit inconsistent for the last couple of weeks. We played negative in the last couple of minutes and they just capitalised."