What we learned from Newcastle's shock win over the Melbourne Storm in Melbourne on Monday night.
Knights defence un-Knights like
All signs heading into this game pointed to a blowout loss for Newcastle but the game could not have followed a more contrasting script. The team boasting equal worst defensive record of the competition was going up against a Melbourne side whose last five wins had come at an average margin of 27 points.
However on Monday night you would have been forgiven for thinking the two teams swapped jerseys. The Newcastle resistance was inspired from the opening kick off, missing just five tackles in the first half as they established a match-winning 12-point lead. It was just the second time this season the Knights have kept their opposition to a single-digit score and was the deciding factor in sending their small pocket of travelling fans back up the highway with all smiles.
Errors at every turn
Whenever you expected Melbourne to get back into the contest they proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot time and time again. Several knock ons off high balls contributed in a major way to an eventual total of 13 errors, with even their star quality not immune. A Cooper Cronk intercept pass in the first half sent Tyrone Roberts all of 60 metres downfield to plant the seed of doubt and in the final 10 minutes skipper Cameron Smith booted the ball into touch from inside his own 40 to sum up a dismal night for the Victorian side.
Dan the Man
How easy is this coaching caper? A memorable win in Melbourne had Knights club legend Danny Buderus all smiles after the game and rightly so as he helped inspire Newcastle to climb off the bottom of the table with a second straight win. The interim coach is now 2-2 since taking over at the start of the month from after Rick Stone was relieved of his duties.
Buderus may have been riding high after Monday night's win but he stopped short of re-thinking his interest in assuming taking over for the long term.
"There's a lot of ups and downs in this job and I guess this is an up at the moment," Buderus said.
"It's fantastic, it's emotional, it's nerve racking and you feel alive that is for sure.
"But I know there's a lot of preparation where this club is heading. I'm not willing to reconsider but hopefully down the track, if this is as good as it can feel why wouldn't you want to do it?"
Storm starved of possession
Even if Melbourne were trying to get themselves back into the contest Newcastle were simply refusing to have any of it. The visitors controlled as much as 68 per cent of possession approaching half-time, taking the bite out of the Storm's attacking weapons from which they never recovered. Scoring points had been no issue for this Melbourne team that had averaged more than 31 points a game from its previous five outings heading into Monday night but all they could manage was a single try from few opportunities, leaving the purple crowd with little to do but look on in shock.
A result felt at both ends of the table
The impact of Monday night's result will be felt at both end of the NRL ladder. Melbourne surrendered a golden opportunity to take their place inside the top four and instead have had their prospects of hosting a home final cast into serious jeopardy as they prepare to face the Cowboys and Broncos in their final two games.
Meanwhile the Knights took a huge step to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon as the moved back to a game clear of the Wests Tigers. All is not safe yet with a tough assignment against the Bulldogs next week but with the form Newcastle has shown in the past fortnight the club now appears odds-on to avoid a second wooden spoon in their history.