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Knights weather Storm for first win of season

The Knights held off a late Storm surge to open their 2024 account on home soil with a 14-12 victory at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. 

With new pairing Jack Cogger and Tyson Gamble finding their feet in the halves, the Knights scored two early tries and kicked a penalty shot in the first half, which remarkably was enough to get the job done over an undermanned Melbourne side.

Two teams contending for a premiership last season, both the Knights and Storm were far from clinical, coughing up errors and blowing opportunities but Newcastle will be relieved to walk away with their first points for the season.

Both sides traded punches in the early stages but it was the Knights who broke the arm-wrestle through Dane Gagai who shrugged off replacement centre Kane Bradley before powering over the line.

Dane Gagai Try

Newcastle had all the momentum and five minutes later Kalyn Ponga stamped his authority on the match, jumping in at hooker and firing a bullet pass to send an unmarked Enari Tuala over on the left edge. Ponga converted for a 12-0 lead.

Pressure continued to mount for Melbourne and a Will Warbrick ball strip handed the home side an opportunity to add an extra two points to take a handy 14-0 lead to the sheds.

Melbourne got on the board eight minutes into the second half with Xavier Coates tapping a Jonah Pezet kick back for Ryan Papenhuyzen to dive over the line and reduce the deficit 14-6.

Ryan Papenhuyzen Try

After an earlier opportunity was denied by a Tyson Frizell try-saver, a solo show-and-go effort from deputy halfback Tyran Wishart put his side back within two points with just five minutes to play.

Papenhuyzen attempted to kick a two-point field goal but it was all too little too late for the visitors who suffered their first loss for the season.

Match Snapshot

  • Knights forward Leo Thompson was placed on report for a dangerous tackle on Ryan Papenhuyzen.
  • Reimis Smith left the field in the 20th minute of the match and did not return after suffering a rib injury.
  • Knights winger Enari Tuala ran for 199 metres to go with his first-half try.
  • Newcastle recruit Kai Pearce-Paul had another big day out in the No. 12 jersey, with a team-high 39 tackles and 141 run metres.
  • Storm's deputy halfback Jonah Pezet was born in Gosford and came through the Knights pathways system.
  • Hooker Jayden Brailey entered the fray in the 54th minute to make his long-waited return to the NRL after suffering an ACL injury in Round 6 last year. 
  • The Knights have won nine of their past 11 games at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Play of the Game 

Skipper Kalyn Ponga reminded us he is the reigning Dally m in the 28th minute, taking matters into his own hands after seeing Enari Tuala open on the left edge. A sweet pass from hooker handed Knights their second and final try of the match.

Enari Tuala Try

What They Said 

"I thought our first half in particular was excellent. We made it hard on ourselves in the second half but credit to the opposition they came at us hard. But at the end of the day we just needed to find a way to win one and hopefully that will kickstart us from there. I thought led by Kalyn we were quite dangerous with the ball we were quite dangerous in the first half." - Knights coach Adam O'Brien 

Knights: Round 3

"It was pretty disappointing with a couple of aspects of our play but I'm really happy with a couple of others. To come back from 14-0 here, it's a tough place to play so to come back in that second half and get as close as we did, that was a really good effort but I think we basically got what we deserved after our first half.

We've got a bye next week so I'm not sure where everybody is at the moment. Nelson (Asofa-Solomona) played with the Bears today and has been out for a while and hasn't done a lot of training so he might need a little bit more time." - Storm coach Craig Bellamy

Storm: Round 3

What's Next 

The Storm will be hoping to welcome back their big guns Cameron Munster (groin), Christian Welch (hconcussion) and Nelson Asofa-Solomona (hamstring) for the first time in 2024 after a bye in Round 4. Joe Chan (hand) and Sua Faalogoa are also expected to return for the Round 5 blockbuster against the Broncos. The Knights, meanwhile, will be chasing redemption at Auckland when they meet with the Warriors for the first time since their elimination final last year.

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.