The Storm handed plenty of depth players some minutes in their final tune-up ahead of round one but were still too strong for the Knights with a 24-10 win in Ballarat on Sunday evening.
George Jennings planted down on the touch-in-goal line as an early Storm raid just failed to create points and instead Bradman Best opened the scoring in the seventh minute from a nice kick back inside from Enari Tuala.
The Knights centre wasn't on the field much longer thanks to an ankle injury, with Storm pair Xavier Coates (head knock) and Cooper Johns (shoulder) also off early.
Jennings got on the board at second time of asking, touching down from a nice Jahrome Hughes kick in the 13th minute, while Nelson Asofa-Solomona went close in the 32nd but lost the ball as he attempted to ground it.
Cameron Munster set up Tyran Wishart in the 48th before development hooker Bronson Garlick set up Felise Kaufusi to make it 18-4.
Jake Clifford broke the line and scored himself at the three-quarter mark and was promptly handed an early mark before Jayden Nikorima stretched the Storm's lead from a Brandon Smith kick seven minutes from full time.
Match: Storm v Knights
Round 2 -
Venue: Mars Stadium, Wendouree
Each side's final hit-out of the pre-season was a good tune-up for the Storm in particular but probably answered few questions for either side ahead of round one.
- Cooper Johns was forced off early with a suspected AC joint injury suffered in a heavy tackle, but the club is hopeful he will be available for round one.
- The Storm also lost winger Xavier Coates, whose head contacted Dom Young's hip in a tackle, and he did not return but has a fortnight to pass through HIA protocols before round one.
- Bradman Best's afternoon also finished early, with the Knights centre taken off with a possible ankle injury.
- Jahrome Hughes looks ready to back up his impressive 2021 season; his kicking game and match control were top notch.
- Young Storm playmaker Tyran Wishart, son of Steelers legend Rod, is probably a couple of injuries off playing first grade but was very impressive starting at hooker, even before scoring a try supporting a Cameron Munster line break.
- Munster spent time at fullback with Nick Meaney on a wing after Coates went off and wound back the clock, including setting up that try for Wishart.
- The Knights struggled to get much going in attack despite having their full-strength spine (minus long-term absentee Jayden Brailey) on the field for much of the match.
- Storm development hooker Bronson Garlick, another second generation player and son of Sean Garlick, played well when he came on at hooker including setting up Felise Kaufusi's try.
- Kurt Mann remains a work in progress as a ball-playing lock but threw himself into his work and had some nice touches.
Play of the game
Early in the second half with his side up 6-4, Cameron Munster, filling in at his old position of fullback, supported a run up the middle and split the line off a nice short pass to race into space and set up rookie Tyran Wishart to show he still has all of his pace and evasiveness.
A Wishart scoring again in the top grade
The Storm head back to Melbourne to fine tune for their Saturday night season-opener against Wests Tigers at CommBank Stadium.
The Knights will start their 2022 campaign with a tough trip to the SCG to face the Roosters. The 3pm Saturday clash will give their defence a stern working over with a few gaps exposed by Melbourne in Ballarat.