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The Thunderbolts put in a second half performance to be proud of but came up just short against Newcastle 34-26.

Playing their first game for the year at AAMI Park, Storm’s Under-20s side had it all to do at half-time, trailing 30-8.

However a brave fight back saw them score three quick tries after the restart to have a big chance of causing an upset.

They were unable to come up with the decisive try but the performance has given coach Eric Smith plenty to build on for the rest of the season.

Scott Drinkwater finished with two tries while Brodie Croft showed strong leadership all day.

It was the perfect start to the game for the Thunderbolts who struck first through Cory Parker inside four minutes.

After making defence a focus during the week the Under-20s made a strong start, keeping the Knights out for the first 10 minutes.

Newcastle eventually found a way through though with back-to-back tries from Ken Tofilau down the left edge.

From there the defensive resistance faded as Zac Hosking crossed and Tofilau completed his hat-trick after just 25 minutes.

Scott Drinkwater gave the Thunderbolts a glimmer of hope before the break when he set off for an outstanding run to cut the margin to 16 before Jordan Pinnock added another for the visitors with seconds left in the first half for a commanding 30-8 lead.

The Thunderbolts needed a response in the second half and got one in scintillating fashion as Jaiyden Hunt burst through the Knights line on 20m and crossed under the posts.

It was game on less than two minutes later as Drinkwater got his second of the afternoon to cut the deficit to 10 points.

Charlie Galo then made it three tries in 12 minutes when he bulldozed over with three Knights defenders on his back.

From there the Thunderbolts gave it everything as they chased that elusive try, spurred on by the vocal crowd at AAMI Park.

Both teams had their chances in the closing stages but the result was sealed for the Knights when Kainoa Gudgeon crossed with a minute to play.

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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