A determined Knights side ended an eight-year hoodoo against the Storm to keep their finals hopes alive with a 26-18 triumph at a packed McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday.
Buoyed by the support of home fans who had turned up early to cheer the club's premiership winning NRLW team, Newcastle came from 12-0 down after conceding two early tries to overpower the Storm.
The turning point was the sin-binning of Melbourne forward Tariq Sims five minutes before half-time for a high shot on Knights halfback Jackson Hastings and the home side piled on three tries in his absence.
Tariq Sims sent to the bin
The Knights hung on in the second half to end an 11-match losing streak against the Storm since 2015 and move within one point of the top eight.
The Storm off got to a flying start when fullback Nick Meaney swooped on a loose ball and raced 75 metres to score in just the third minute of the match.
Nick Meaney try 2nd minute
Newcastle had lost their previous 11 matches against the Storm and the hoodoo appeared set to continue when Melbourne forward Trent Loiero crashed over in the eighth minute and Meaney's conversion gave the visitors a 12-0 lead.
However, the Knights got back in the game after a dropped ball by Melbourne winger Will Warbrick gave them attacking field position and winger Dom Young scored off a tap-on pass by Dane Gagai.
With momentum turning in favour of the home team, Jackson Hastings put Bradman Best over in the 32nd minute to reduce the Storm's lead to 12-10 after the conversion by Kalyn Ponga.
Bradman Best try 32nd minute
The Knights then scored three unanswered tries while Sims was in the sinbin for a high shot on Hastings to take an 18-12 halftime lead.
Greg Marzhew was the first to cross in the 36th minute after five-eighth Tyson Gamble stepped across the face of the defence before linking with Best to put the winger over out wide.
Greg Marzhew try 35th minute
Lachlan Fitzgibbon then scored one of the best tries of the season after the Knights shifted the ball through 10 sets of hands, with Tyson Frizell and Jackson Hastings handling twice, in the 39th minute.
Ponga missed both conversions but Newcastle showed their intent to carry on with the job when Matt Croker scored in the 45th minute as Sims was waiting to return to the field.
Mat Croker try 44th minute
The Knights only other points came from a 75th minute Ponga penalty goal but their defence limited the Storm to just one second half try through Papua New Guinea centre Justin Olam and they hung on to win.
Match: Knights v Storm
Round 21 -
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
- Melbourne hooker Harry Grant was placed on report for a kneeing incident involving Knights opposite Phoenix Crossland.
- Newcastle lock Adam Elliott faces a nervous wait to learn if he faces a charge from the match review committee for a high tackle late in the match.
- The Knights have now won six of their past eight games at McDonald Jones Stadium.
- The Storm had won their past 11 games against the Knights, with Newcastle captain Kalyn Ponga having previously never beaten Melbourne.
- Knights winger Dominic Young has scored 17 tries in his past 14 games.
- Newcastle second-rower Tyson Frizell carried the ball for 168 metres, made two line-breaks, produced two off-loads and six tackle breaks in a five-star performance.
Justin Olam try 52nd minute
Play of the game
With the Storm down to 12-men, the Knights upped the intensity to take advantage and second-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon scored one of the tries of the season just before halftime. Involving 10 sets of hands, the Knights shifted the ball from one side of the field to the other until a gap opened up against a tiring defence.
Lachlan Fitzgibbon try 38th minute
What they said
"We've come along way in terms of our resilience. I think we are a tougher footy team than we were last year and we are maturing as well. We didn't panic behind the line, go into our shell or hit flight mode, we stayed in the fight. I've said a number of times that our best footy has held up against Penrith, against Brisbane - I know we didn't win the games but we played quite well and we worried those teams. The narrative then was that they were off but we never believed that. In reality the group didn't get the credit they deserved. They have actually forced teams to be off and tonight was another example." - Knights coach Adam O'Brien.
Knights: Round 21
"One thing we pride ourselves on is not getting complacent or never getting complacent. I am not quite sure if that was it but at the end of the day they out-enthused us and out-worked us, to be quite honest, and that was the difference. It's been an up-and-down year and we have given up some leads. We have got to ask ourselves how ruthless do we want to be, do we want to be a good football team when we've got all the ball and it is easy going or do we want to be a good team in any situation, and we haven't been that this year," - Storm coach Craig Bellamy.
Storm: Round 21
The Storm host the Eels at Marvel Stadium next Friday night, while the Knights travel to Canberra on Saturday.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy will be sweating on the match review committee charges after former NSW Origin forward Tariq Sims (high tackle) and Queensland hooker Harry Grant (knees) were placed on report.
Melbourne centre Reimis Smith suffered a suspected adductor muscle tear that forced him from the field in the second half.
With the return of star centre Dane Gagai, the Knights are almost at full strength but there may a judiciary concern over Adam Elliott after the lock was placed on report for a high tackle late in the match.