There was no lack of effort from the Knights but the Storm were too strong as they came away from McDonald Jones Stadium with a 28-10 victory on Sunday afternoon.
It took over 15 minutes for the first points to be scored when Ryley Jacks crossed the line to give the Storm a 6-0 lead. The Knights had plenty of opportunities, but poor ball control continued to let them down before Kalyn Ponga scored from dummy half in the 30th minute to tie the game. They had another opportunity five minutes later but instead Cameron Munster picked up an errant kick and handed the ball to Josh Addo-Carr who ran 65 metres to score. A penalty goal shortly after to Cameron Smith meant the Storm went into the break with a 14-6 lead.
The Knights were the first to score in the second half when Ken Sio crossed in the corner in the 44th minute to reduce the deficit to four points but that was the last time they would score for the rest of the game. Another penalty goal to Smith in the 53rd minute extended the lead to six and off the ensuing kick off Munster broke the line and again passed to Addo-Carr who raced away to score his second try of the day. A try to Suliasu Vunivalu five minutes later sealed a 28-10 victory for the Storm.
POOR DISCIPLINE LETS THE KNIGHTS DOWN
The Knights tried hard all game but too many errors and poor fifth tackle options constantly let them down. They finished the game with a 66% completion rate and made 15 errors, the majority of errors made when they were attacking the Storm line.
For the most part, their defence was solid and much improved from where it has been at times this season, but it was their poor discipline that was the main factor in their loss today.
MUNSTER CRUCIAL IN STORM WIN
Last week, it was a brilliant second half performance from Cameron Smith which lead the Storm to a win. Today, it was a Cameron Munster masterclass that had the biggest influence. Munster produced two try assists, a line break and ran for 163 metres in yet another strong showing this season.
The Storm are yet to reach their peak in 2018 but with Munster and Smith playing as well as they are at the moment, there’s no doubt they are still one of the heavy favourites to win the premiership this year.
PONGA BRILLIANT BUT KNIGHTS NEED PEARCE
Kalyn Ponga was once again the best player for the Knights today, and should have earned himself a spot in the Queensland team next weekend. Ponga finished the game with a try, 207 metres, two line breaks and 14 tackle breaks in an impressive performance.
However, the Knights sorely miss the composure that Mitchell Pearce brought to their side before he got injured. Their kicking game was average and regularly came up with poor options and execution in attack, highlighted by Connor Watson’s bombed opportunity when he missed a simple pass to Sione Mata’utia after making a break that would have resulted in a try. Today’s game highlighted how important Pearce is to this Newcastle Knights team.
KNIGHTS ALMOST OUT OF FINALS RACE
After the result today, the Knights sit in 11th position and are three wins outside the top eight. With one of the worst points differentials in the competition, they can likely only afford one loss for the rest of the season if they want to play finals.
The Knights are much improved this year and should be able avoid a third straight wooden spoon but fans will likely have to wait at least another season to see their team feature in the finals.
NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 10
Tries: Kalyn Ponga, Ken Sio
Goals: Kalyn Ponga 1/2
Drop Goals: n/a
MELBOURNE STORM 28
Tries: Josh Addo-Carr 2, Ryley Jacks, Suliasi Vunivalu
Goals: Cameron Smith 6/7
Drop Goals: n/a
Newcastle Knights: 1 Kalyn Ponga, 2 Ken Sio, 3 Sione Mata’utia, 4 Cory Denniss, 5 Shaun Kenny-Dowall, 6 Connor Watson, 7 Jack Cogger, 8 Herman Ese’ese, 9 Slade Griffin, 10 Josh King, 11 Lachlann Fitzgibbon, 12 Mitchell Barnett, 13 Aidan Guerra Interchange: 14 Danny Levi, 15 Chris Heighington, 16 Luke Yates, 19 Sam Stone
Melbourne Storm: 17 Jahrome Hughes, 2 Suliasi Vunivalu, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Curtis Scott, 5 Josh Addo-Carr, 6 Cameron Munster, 7 Ryley Jacks, 8 Tim Glasby, 9 Cameron Smith, 10 Nelson Asofa-Solomona, 11 Felise Kaufusi, 16 Joe Stimson, 13 Kenny Bromwich Interchange: 12 Ryan Hoffman, 14 Brandon Smith, 15 Christian Welch, 19 Sam Kasiano