Newcastle Knights 32
Tries: Uate 2, Roberts, Mata’utia, Gagai, Waddell
Goals: Gidley 4/6
Melbourne Storm 30
Tries: Slater, Waqa 4, Chambers
Goals: Smith 3/6
Kurt Gidley kicked a touchline conversion after Akuila Uate crossed on the hooter to win an incredible contest at Hunter Stadium as Newcastle Knights fought back to beat Mealbourne Storm 32-30.
There was just two minutes left on the clock before the Knights scored through Waddell and Uate to send Newcastle into hysteria as they won with the last kick of the game.
Newcastle had trailed since the fifth minute but kept within 12 points until an incredible steal in the dying seconds in what will surely go down as the greatest game of the competition so far this season.
Billy Slater scored the first points of the game as he was on hand to support Kevin Proctor, who was put through a hole by Cooper Cronk before breaking away to provide the try for the Storm fullback.
It wasn’t long before their six point lead became twelve as Sisa Waqa hijacked Tyrone Roberts plans to go wide with an interception try.
Storm threatened to make the game a no contest with their early scores until 22 minutes in when Akuila Uate broke down the Storm’s left edge with a powerful run and offloaded well to Chris Houston, who was in the perfect position to cross for a try in his 150th NRL appearance.
Newcastle were right back in it moments later when Will Chambers couldn’t deal with a bomb and Tyrone Roberts collected the dropped ball. Sisa Waqa held him up before he lost control of the ball, re-gathered and grounded it behind himself to get the thumbs up from the video ref.
Knight’s revival made it a tight encounter with both sides going close but Melbourne extended the lead late in the half as great ball movement from Cronk, Harris and Slater led to Sisa Waqa crossing for his second of the game out wide. Smith hit the post with the conversion attempt as his side went into the break 10-16 ahead.
Both sides were locked in an arm wrestle at the start of the second half and it took an outstanding finish out wide from Chanel Mata’utia to get the first points of the half on the board as he was on the end of a quick passing move.
Melbourne distanced themselves again three minutes later though as Sisa Waqa did well to keep hold of a deflected pass and keep himself in the field of play to cross for his hat-trick try and extend the lead to six.
Kane Snowden went within centimetres of levelling the scores but Billy Slater did just enough to hold the front rower up before the line.
The game stayed close until Will Chambers showed incredible strength to force his way over out wide with a number of Knights defenders in his way. Smith was having a terrible night with the boot and his missed conversion attempt kept the lead at ten points with just over ten to play.
Newcastle could have easily given in after going further behind however, Dane Gagai made it a tense last ten when he spotted Storm defenders napping on the blind side and jumped from dummy half to score a soft try. Gidley made it a six pointer to set up a big finish as they trailed 20-24.
Sisa Waqa’s fourth try, off the back of good work from Chambers, seemed to have the game wrapped up for Melbourne.
There was three minutes left when Cameron Smith converted to make it a ten point lead and what happened next was incredible.
Newcastle regained the ball from the kick off and ended the set with a kick which was gathered by Storm. That looked to be the game yet Travis Waddell had other ideas as he stripped the ball one-on-one from Slater’s grasp right on the try line and put the ball down for a six point score.
From the resulting set they were handed a penalty as the Storm pushed the Knights into touch despite held being called, cue Akuila Uate. The Knights kept the ball alive on the last and as the hooter sounded the winger caught the ball with an overlap and dove over in the corner.
He left captain Kurt Gidley the task of converting from out wide to win the game and he duly delivered to set off ecstatic celebration as Newcastle completed a famous 32-30 victory over Melbourne.