Newcastle Knights lose to New Zealand Warriors after costly play

A CRUCIAL mistake by Newcastle Knights' five-eighth Jarrod Mullen cost the team a much-needed win in round 12 of the 2014 NRL series.

The Knights lost 38-18 to the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland on Sunday.

Having clawed their way back from a 16-6 deficit to trail 16-12 about 90 seconds from half-time, the Knights were under heavy defensive pressure when Mullen decided to chip kick for winger James McManus on the last tackle.

The ball sailed out, gifting the Warriors the ball about 20 metres out from the line in prime field position.

The Warriors' Simon Mannering went flying over the line for a second captain's try.

Knights coach Wayne Bennett said Mullen's decision was the sort NRL generals on the "good teams" did not make.

"It wasn't the time to chance our arm," Bennett said. "The good teams don't do that stuff."

The Knights are the only team on a five-game losing streak.

On the sidelines, the Hunter Sports Group's handover of the Knights is expected to be finalised this week, but it could take another two months before the franchise is independent.

Newcastle host Wests Tigers at Hunter Stadium this Sunday.

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