Storm crowned Minor Premiers with Knights win
Melbourne have been crowned the 2017 Minor Premiers with a runaway 44-12 win over the Knights in Newcastle.
Storm wrapped up top spot on the NRL ladder with two games still to play, courtesy of a clinical attacking display.
Young playmaker Brodie Croft was pure class, scoring a hat-trick and providing a try assist to give Storm fans a mouth-watering glimpse of the future.
The 20-year-old was a late inclusion into the side for the rested Cooper Cronk and the Storm attack did not miss a beat, recording the Club’s highest score of the season and highest ever score in Newcastle.
Cameron Smith also created yet another piece of history, becoming the first player to captain his side in 250 NRL games.
It was far from an ideal start for Melbourne who saw Jesse Bromwich sent to the sin bin after just two minutes for an illegal block on Jamie Buhrer. Newcastle capitalised immediately to go six points clear courtesy of a try down the right side.
That seemed to wake up the visitors who, despite being a man down, hit back in the eighth minute. A Brodie Croft chip kick came off hands to Cameron Munster who found Curtis Scott in acres of space to score his fifth try of the season.
From there the contest ebbed and flowed until Dale Finucane took matters into his own hands in the 21st minute with a powerful finish under the posts.
Storm continued to control the football and were rewarded moments before half-time. It came courtesy of Croft who dazzled the Knights line with some fancy footwork before slicing through to score, handing his side a 16-6 lead at the break.
The youngster was not done there though, once again putting the Newcastle defence to the sword after the restart.
This time the 20-year-old broke through from 30m out and chewed threw the remaining metres in the blink of an eye for a 16-point Melbourne advantage.
The Knights found a way through to peg the margin back but it lasted all of three minutes before Will Chambers finished of a perfect team play down the right side.
In the closing stages the Croft show continued to role on, securing his hat-trick courtesy of another brilliant run before throwing a try assist for good measure to Suliasi Vunivalu with 11 minutes to play.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona then broke through in the final minute to add the purple icing to the Storm cake.
Melbourne Storm 44
Tries: Brodie Croft 3, Curtis Scott, Dale Finucane, Will Chambers, Suliasi Vunivalu, Suliasi Vunivalu
Goals: Cameron Smith 5, Dale Finucane
Newcastle Knights 12
Tries: Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Joe Wardle
Goals: Trent Hodkinson 2