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Brodie Croft starred in Melbourne's big win over Newcastle as the competition leaders secured their second consecutive minor premiership.

Minor premiership wrapped up

Melbourne's win has landed them the 2017 minor premiership for the second consecutive season. 

But after last year's agonising grand final defeat to the Sharks, Storm skipper Cameron Smith said finishing first in the regular season wouldn't count for much if they didn't go on with the job in the finals.

"A lot of effort goes into achieving a minor premiership, not only from the guys playing but the coaching staff and everyone involved in the administration side," Smith said.

"It's reward for being the most consistent over 26 rounds, but we know it's not going to mean anything next week or in three weeks time when we play our first final.

"You get into the final eight and those last four weeks, if you're the best team in those four weeks you'll be the premiers. 

"It doesn't matter about the minor premiership."

Lamb's season over after knee injury

While there is only a fortnight to go in the regular season, no man in Newcastle deserves to finish it on his own terms than five-eighth Brock Lamb.

However, the young gun won't get the opportunity after suffering a grade two medial knee injury, Knights coach Nathan Brown confirmed post-game.

The pivot left the field late in the game after trying to play on following a knock to the knee in the first half. 

"That might be the end of him for the year, there are a few blokes in there that are wounded," Brown said.

"It's disappointing and made it hard, he's our number one kicker and creates a lot of chances for us.

"As long as it's a minor one and not anything major so he can have a good pre-season, that's the key for Brock. 

"He's certainly put his hand up [this year] and showed he's got the talent."

Despite the coach opting for Jaelen Feeney earlier in the season, Brown hinted Jack Cogger was set to replace Lamb in the halves for Newcastle's final two clashes of 2017 against Canberra and Cronulla. 

Feeney's future at the club is uncertain, while Cogger is contracted for next season.

Croft seals 2018 halfback spot

Cooper Cronk's looming exit from Melbourne at the end of the year was seen by some as the end of an era, however another strong performance from young halfback Brodie Croft in Cronk's absence has given plenty of Storm fans a glimpse into the future.

Playing for the first time alongside Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and a full-strength forward pack, Croft laid on two tries and scored three of his own in a man-of-the-match performance.

"We obviously know he's a good player and good kid," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said of Croft. 

"A couple of people said it was a lack of respect to leave Cooper out [this week] but he's got a couple of injuries. There was no lack of respect there at all, we need Cooper fit.

"We had full confidence in what Crofty could do. It was a real polished performance from him."

Form of Fitzgibbon continues

Another strong performance from Knights second-rower Lachlan Fitzgibbon is putting pressure on the club to re-sign him.

Fitzgibbon is off contract at season's end and Brown has confirmed in recent weeks a contract extension is on the table.

Fitzgibbon scored the opening try of the contest and set up the Knights' only other against the competition leaders, but Brown said he remained a work in progress.

"Lachie had some parts of the game that stood out but he won't mind me saying he's got other parts that he needs to work at," Brown said.

"We're keen for him to stay and he's keen to stay but these things take time. He'll see today's game and see where the level is at."

Storm make history in Newcastle

It may be hard to believe but Melbourne's 32-point victory on Saturday was the side's biggest in the Hunter, eclipsing the previous record of a 13-point margin set in 2013.

While the Storm have a strong record down in Melbourne against the Knights, their road trips haven't been as effective.  

It was the first time Bellamy's side scored more than 30 points at the venue, and Smith thought the margin could have been more. 

"I thought Newcastle started the better of the two teams and we got flustered when Jesse [Bromwich] got 10 in the bin but found our way and finished strongly in the first half," Smith said.

"I still think we turned over cheap ball. With all due respect to Newcastle we could've put more points on the scoreboard.

"Newcastle were very brave but I just thought we turned over cheap ball in the ruck with silly offloads and that's plagued our entire season in stages.

"We can't afford to play that way [in the finals]."


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National Rugby League respects and honours 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.

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