Newcastle coach Nathan Brown is hoping the carrot of a rare top-eight berth is just the motivation they need this week to extend their winning streak to four.
The Knights will enter the top half of the ladder if they continue their recent strong form with a win over St George Illawarra on Saturday in Mudgee in NSW’s central west.
It will be the first time Newcastle will sit inside the top eight this deep into a season since last making the finals in 2013.
It is a far cry from the perilous situation a month ago, when Brown had been under immense pressure after opening the year with five losses in six games.
“From where we were, and three-four weeks ago, winning has given us confidence and, hopefully, that confidence will see us climb up the ladder,” Brown said on Monday.
“Hopefully, it gives them great motivation, but every week’s just so important and it’s hard each week to win.
“You look at the ladder, it’s bizarre where we were three-four weeks ago, where we are now and where we could be if we continue to play some decent footy.
“But on the reverse, you lose a couple and you can drop rather quick as well.”
The Dragons match comes ahead of a challenging month including games against the Sydney Roosters, South Sydney and Melbourne.
The Knights had some good news on Monday on the injury front, with Connor Watson and Edrick Lee cleared of serious foot injuries.
Both are a chance to travel to Mudgee, with Tautau Moga and Kurt Mann options to fill in should either player be sidelined.
The game in country NSW will be the fourth road trip for Newcastle in five weeks, although two of them have turned into wins.
“We’ve got a long turnaround this week as well, which is a bonus. For us, road trips seem to be going reasonably well,” Brown said.
The Knights lost to the Dragons in round four in golden point.