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There was no discouraging coach Adam O'Brien despite an injury-hit Newcastle stumbling to a 35-22 loss to lowly Brisbane ahead of next week's NRL finals.
O'Brien appeared to have plenty of headaches after the Knights lost prop David Klemmer before a Broncos outfit battling their own injury issues snapped his side's five-game winning run at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
Second-last Brisbane lost prop Payne Haas (ankle) and hooker Jake Turpin (broken jaw) in the first half but still registered just their seventh win of the year, providing a fond farewell for retiring captain Alex Glenn.
For Newcastle, the six-tries-to-four defeat was hardly ideal preparation for next week's elimination final against Parramatta.
But O'Brien was surprisingly upbeat, praising his young Knights for fighting back from 34-10 down before all but confirming Klemmer would back up against the Eels despite suffering rib cartilage damage in the second half.
Indeed, O'Brien claimed many would be proud of his side's performance after resting five players including Tyson Frizell on Saturday and benching stars Kalyn Ponga and Mitchell Pearce after 45 minutes.
"I think we fly into finals. Our guys who were rested will be really proud of our young blokes," he said.
"Our best footy is still waiting to happen. We haven't peaked yet and hopefully that happens next week."
Klemmer looked distressed clutching his ribs after a hit from third man in Albert Kelly in the 47th minute.
O'Brien not only backed Klemmer to return next week but also sidelined NSW prop Daniel Saifiti (knee).
"I think he (Klemmer) will get up for the game. They can take a needle, strap him up," he said.
"He's a tough cookie but we will look at him tomorrow and see where he is at."
In another potential concern, Newcastle's attack failed to blow away the battling Broncos despite largely keeping their spine intact on Saturday.
They are now the fourth side in the NRL era to make the playoffs ranked in the bottom two in attack, notching 428 points with a -143 differential.
Still, O'Brien wasn't concerned.
"Would we have liked to have connected a little bit more (in attack)? Yeah," he said.
"But ... I thought there were some good pieces of play in the first half where we moved the ball quite well, we just didn't ice it at the end.
"To be fighting there in the end ...I am proud of them."
The Knights fought back to cut the deficit to 12 points with tries to Jack Johns (63rd) and Chris Randall (66th) before Anthony Milford in his last game before heading to South Sydney - ensured a rare Broncos win with a 74th-minute field goal.