Storm fightback down Knights
A second half fight back has seen Melbourne Storm overrun Newcastle and return to the winners list with an 18-14 triumph at AAMI Park on Saturday.
A try to Richie Kennar with seven minutes to play snatched the points for Storm who trailed by as much as eight points in the second half.
Kennar, who was a late inclusion for the suspended Marika Koroibete, was outstanding in his first game of the season to finish with than 140 metres.
Storm did not have it all their own way but remained composed in the pressure cooker and will now enjoy a much deserved eight-day break before taking on the Bulldogs next Monday night.
Newcastle were brave but ultimately ran out of legs about being down to just two on the bench for much of the game.
It was a nervous start from both sides as they combined for two knock ons and two penalties inside four minutes.
The game came to a standstill in the sixth minute when Knights centre Sione Mata’utia had to be helped from the field following a heavy head clash and would take no further part in the game.
Storm then enjoyed good ball after the halt in play but were unable to capitalise from repeat sets.
Buoyed by their resilient defence, the Knights marched up field and soon had the first score of the game on 13 minutes.
Akuila Uate, a late inclusion into the side, caught a highball on the Storm line before showing the presence of mind to offload to a nearby Jacob Saifiti.
However back-to-back penalties against the Knights soon had Storm back in good-ball territory and this time the men in purple made it count.
Cooper Cronk swooped on a Will Chambers offload 10m from the line and sliced through the defence for his first try of the season. Cameron Smith then added the points to level it all up at 6-6.
In the 27th minute the Knights found themselves down to just two on the bench as Danny Levi went down to the sheds limping.
That did not dampen their taste for the contest though as they nudged their way into the lead courtesy of a Trent Hodkinson penalty goal.
Youngsters Richie Kennar and Nelson Asofa-Solomona attempted to spur Storm into action with several powerful runs to try and swing momentum back the way of the home side.
However it would be the Knights who would extend their lead on 58 minutes as Korbin Sims pounced on a Trent Hodkinson grubber kick to extend their lead to eight.
Some clever thinking by Will Chambers earned Storm repeat set with 18 minutes to play it what proved to be a turning point.
Dale Finucane, a strong performer all day, laid a clever offload into the path of Cronk who broke through the Knights line 15m out to score his double.
Smith would make sure of the conversion and then a penalty kick just two minutes later to suddenly square it up at 14-all.
It was then Richie to the rescue with just over seven minutes on the clock. Storm again found themselves deep in Knights terriotory where a quick move to the right found Kennar in achers of space to send the purple faithful into raptures.
Melbourne Storm 18
Tries: Cooper Cronk 2, Richie Kennar
Goals: Cameron Smith 3
Newcastle Knights 14
Tries: Jacob Saifiti, Korbin Sims
Goals: Trent Hodkinson 3