Storm experience pays off in win over Knights
The Melbourne Storm have arrested a two-game losing streak with a convincing 40-14 win over the Newcastle Knights on Friday night at AAMI Park.
The Craig Bellamy-coached side put in a dominant display to post a seven tries-to-three victory - a performance pleasing in discipline, error count and completion - and a reversal of their recent performances.
New halfback Ryley Jacks played a steady hand as the Storm's back three - especially their wingers - contributed to an energetic display in front of 12,386 fans.
On a warm and still night, the Storm galloped away to a perfect start inside two minutes, with Josh Addo-Carr crossing for a try after lead-up runs from Ryan Hoffman and Billy Slater down the left edge.
Eight minutes later, Slater provided a low kick that bounced right into Suliasi Vunivalu's arms for a simple try and a 10-0 lead.
Match: Storm vs Knights
Venue: AAMI Park
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
And the points kept coming after Tim Glasby crashed over in the 16th minute. After a straight-forward Cameron Smith penalty left the home side with an 18-0 cushion, the Storm were almost scoring a point a minute.
By the 25th minute, Melbourne had racked up 16 completed sets, with no errors and 82 percent possession. The Knights had barely touched the footy and the Storm looked a different outfit to recent weeks - hungrier, slicker and faster.
It had to turn some time. And Newcastle had to wait until the 29-minute mark before they posted their first points after some extended time in possession.
Fullback Kalyn Ponga dazzled with a step and pass before the line to put Lachlan Fitzgibbon into space for their first score.
And the visitors would feel better a few minutes later when Mitchell Pearce provided a bullet-like pass to Ken Sio, and the winger stepped around Vunivalu to burrow over for a 18-8 scoreline at halftime.
The game-changing moment came five minutes later.
Fitzgibbon was sent to the sin bin after stopping a Slater quick tap - and Addo-Carr quickly captalised with a one-handed try in the left corner. Smith converted from the touch-line to extend the lead by 16.
The Knights are a young team and showed glimpses of what they can offer - but mistakes continued to haunt their progress.
Pearce produced a surprise 40-20 kick but a team-mate knocked on, while Ponga had a clean line-break and only Slater to beat. But the Storm custodian completed a low tackle and Ponga dropped it cold.
Vunivalu grabbed his second try soon afterwards - cleaning up after a dropped ball from a Ryley Jacks bomb - and at 30-8 were kicking away.
The try was the 50th of Vunivalu's career, coming in his 53rd NRL game. The only man to reach 50 tries faster is Semi Radradra, who hit the half-century in 2016 in his 52nd game.
Ponga again showed his ball-playing class with a fluent pass to Sio and the winger crossed for his double with 14 minutes to play.
But the Storm wanted more points and scored two more tries. Jacks put Felise Kaufusi into a big hole to score down the right edge with 10 minutes to go and Sam Kasiano grabbed his first try in Melbourne colours with a barnstorming run a few minutes later.