Newcastle's NRL form slump isn't getting captain Mitchell Pearce down.
The Knights have lost four of their past five matches and were trounced 48-10 by a rampant Sydney Roosters at the SCG on Saturday.
It means after a six-game winning run that had them fifth on the ladder, the Knights are now eighth and just one point clear of the chasing pack heading into the back straight of the regular season.
Although Pearce admits the performance against the Roosters simply wasn't good enough, he is relishing the challenge reversing the Knights' form presents with a finals berth very much on the line.
"The mood's good. We're professional footballers, it's never good losing but it's an exciting time of the year," Pearce said.
"This is the best time of the year. We're in not a bad position.
"This next four weeks is the season really isn't it? That's the exciting part."
The Knights will host the Wests Tigers on Friday with the visitors knowing a win would lift them level on points with Pearce's team.
Newcastle have conceded 92 points in their past three matches and Pearce admits stiffening up their defence is the area which has to improve if they're to avoid falling by the wayside in the race for the top eight.
"You don't lose yourself over two weeks," he said.
"It's been a bit of a disrupted couple of weeks over the Origin but last week was no excuse for that.
"We've got to recreate what we've been doing."
Australian Associated Press