Melbourne Storm have suffered a heartbreaking 30-32 loss to the Newcastle Knights on Saturday evening at Hunter Stadium.
Leading by 10-points with four minutes remaining, Melbourne conceded two late tries to the Knights. Kurt Gidley’s conversion after the siren handed the hosts a remarkable come from behind victory.
Earlier, Sisa Waqa’s four try effort had looked to have secured victory for Melbourne before the late surge from Wayne Bennett’s side.
After threatening to break through the Knights’ defensive line on numerous occasions from kick-off, Storm got the positive start to the match they were looking for when Kevin Proctor’s line break paved the way for Billy Slater to open the scoring.
Shortly after Slater’s opener, Sisa Waqa doubled Melbourne’s advantage, turning defence into attack thanks to an intercept as the Knights drove forward.
Facing a 12-0 deficit, the home side hit back in the 22nd minute through milestone man Chris Houston in his 150th NRL game. Enjoying strong field position the Knights were able to create a second phase play after some powerful work from halfback Tyrone Roberts, finally releasing Houston on the right edge.
Roberts then drew the hosts even closer himself, grounding the loose ball after a scramble in defence reducing Storm’s lead to two points.
Responding just before the half-time break Melbourne re-installed their buffer as Billy Slater’s quick hands allowed Waqa to score his second of the evening.
A high intensity start to the second half led to Newcastle putting plenty of pressure on the Storm defence, earning repeat sets deep in attack.
Eventually the early weight of possession paid off for the hosts, again drawing to within two points after Chanel Mata'utia crossed the try line.
With momentum continuing to swing in favour of either side, Waqa completed his hat-trick on the right wing, a composed finish stretching Storm’s lead once again.
Two Storm tries, including Waqa’s fourth in the final 15 minutes of play pushed Melbourne out to a 10-point lead before the Knights stunned Craig Bellamy’s side with an eleventh hour comeback.
Melbourne Storm 30
Tries: Billy Slater 5m, Sisa Waqa 10m, Sisa Waqa 38m, Sisa Waqa 52m, Will Chambers 67m, Sisa Waqa 77m
Goals: Cameron Smith 3
Newcastle Knights 32
Tries: Chris Houston 22m, Tyrone Roberts 26m, Chanel Mata'utia 48m, Dane Gagai 72m, Travis Waddell 79m, Akuila Uate 80m
Goals: Kurt Gidley 4