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The Storm have continued their 2024 dominance with a hard-fought 36-28 win over the Knights at AAMI Park on Sunday.

With Maroons duo Harry Grant and Xavier Coates backing up from Wednesday's Origin win and Tyran Wishart stepping up in place of injured star Cameron Munster, Melbourne rebounded from their Round 12 loss to secure top spot on the competition ladder.

Both sides traded sets in the opening 15 minutes before Newcastle had the first opportunity to post points however debutant Fletcher Sharpe fumbled the ball over the line after some excellent cover defence.

Melbourne marched downfield on the next set and centre Nick Meaney sliced through defenders from close range to open the scoreboard 6-0.

The Knights hit back in the 21st minute when Jackson Hastings picked up a stray Storm pass and found Dylan Lucas in support who skipped inside and raced under the posts to score.

Dylan Lucas 1st Try

Melbourne had a golden opportunity when they were gifted several opportunities on the line but the visitors dug deep for four consecutive sets to keep their tryline intact.

A penalty against Eliesa Katoa for slowing up the ruck then gave Newcastle ideal field position and rookie Sharpe capitalised, bursting into space thanks to a sweet pass from Jack Cogger. 

Looking like they would head to the sheds down by six, prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona came up with a huge play in the 39th minute, offloading out the back for Grant who tipped onto Hughes to crash over the line and tie things up 12-12.

In the last play of the half, the Storm made it two tries in 90 seconds when Hughes sent the ball down the short side and Grant Anderson found space on the right edge before kicking back inside for Meaney to score and take a six-point lead into the sheds.

Nick Meaney 2nd Try

A mistake by Nelson Asofa-Solomona coming out of his own end invited Newcastle into the red zone early in the second half and Kai Pearce-Paul came up with a crafty offload from the ground to send Lucas over for a double.

Six minutes later fill-in five-eighth Wishart came up with a response, stepping past Tyson Frizell and darting over from close range. 

With 15 minutes to play the Storm grabbed some breathing space when Wishart put Coates over in the left hand corner with a perfectly weighted cutout pass. Meaney couldn't land the conversion but Storm had a 28-16 lead.

Wishart continued his stellar second half when he crossed for a double in the 60th minute thanks to some nice lead up work from Meaney and Anderson on the right.

Come the 66th minute and Dane Gagai came up with an important four-pointer for the Knights, bursting into space thanks to some quick hands from Jack Cogger.

The Knights ensured a grandstand finish when Hastings sent a perfectly weighted chip over for Enari Tuala to score in the corner to reduce the deficit 34-28 but the game was won when Frizell was sent to the sin bin in the 79th minute and Melbourne sealed the victory with a penalty goal.

Match Snapshot

  • Local junior Fletcher Sharpe made his NRL debut at fullback and scored a try, broke five tackles and ran for 148 metres.
  • Knights forward Kai Pearce-Paul was placed on report in the 37th minute for a dangerous tackle on Trent Loiero.
  • Storm centre Reimis Smith left the field in the 68th minute for a HIA.
  • Newcastle veteran Tyson Frizell was sent to the sin bin in the 79th minute for a professional foul on Tyran Wishart.

Tyson Frizell sent to the sin bin

  • Newcastle centre Dane Gagai had a day out in the No. 3 jersey with a team-high 246 metres and three line breaks to go with his second half try.
  • Melbourne had 10 offloads compared to the Knights' six.
  • The Knights have not won in Melbourne since 2015.
  • Storm winger Xavier Coates has scored 29 tries in 24 games at AAMI Park.

Play of the Game 

Entering the fray in the 33rd minute, veteran prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona came up with a big play in the shadows of half time when he produced an impressive flick pass to keep the ball alive. Down 12-6, Melbourne needed a try and the imposing prop made sure they capitalised close to the line, sending a ball out the back under pressure for Harry Grant who tipped onto Jahrome Hughes.

Jahrome Hughes Try

What They Said 

"I'm glad we won obviously but I just thought how many points we let in and how many line breaks they had through our middle was really disappointing. The game could have gone either way and I was just disappointed with our defence at times. After a bye and a long turnaround sometimes it's a little bit hard to get into it." - Storm coach Craig Bellamy

Storm: Round 14

"We're never content with losing but it was a marked improvement from last week. Even our harshest critics would agree that we certainly threw a lot more at what is a quality team. At at the end of the day we go home disappointed to not get the two points but I'm proud of the fighting spirit this team showed. I thought the evidence was there that we moved the ball and challenged the Storm a lot more so we were more connected (in the halves)" - Knights coach Adam O'Brien

Knights: Round 14

What's Next 

The Storm head to Auckland to meet with the Warriors hot off a big win over the Cowboys while the Knights return home to host the premier Panthers.

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.