The NYC Newcastle Knights were beaten 26-24 after the siren by the Melbourne Storm at Hunter Stadium on Sunday morning.
It was a challenging first half for the red and blues as they gave up 20 point, but were much improved in the second period to claw themselves to a four point lead.
It was a try 30 seconds from time that proved the young Knights’ undoing, Jacob Tonge scoring and Jesse Arthars converting to secure the win.
The Knights started on the front foot, prop Jayden Butterfield muscling his way over in the third minute to score. Jake McNamara converted, but nine minutes later the Storm struck back via back rower Josh Kerr.
Fullback Arthars converted to even the scores, and then two minutes later five-eighth Scott Drinkwater crossed over untouched to push the Storm into the lead.
Soon after the Knights coughed up the ball ten metres out from their own line and gifted the Storm another try, Drinkwater getting his second but Arthars unable to convert from out wide.
With 26 minutes played Drinkwater got his hat-trick when a grubber pin-balled it’s way through the Knight’s defence. Arthars’ attempted conversion pinged off the upright to leave the score at 18-6.
30 seconds before half time the Knights got back on the scoresheet, Nick Meaney weaving his way through the middle of the Storm’s defence to give winger Matt Soper-Lawler an easy try. McNamara converted to push the half time score to 20-12.
The red and blues came out fighting in the second stanza, and in the 51st minute interchange hooker Nash Birch found enough space to dive over the line. McNamara converted to bring the Knights within two points of the away side, and then ten minutes later Braden Robson got a try when Brayden Musgrove set him up with a line break on the halfway line.
With the score now at 24-20 in favour of the Knights the away side was awarded a scrum ten metres out following a knock-on. It looked as though it could be a possible turning point as the Storm piled up the pressure, until Connor Donohue fumbled the pill from a play-the-ball and effectively put the Knights back on the front foot.
With seven minutes left on the clock Robson looked as though he could have scored his second, until he spilled it in a tackle and let the Storm off the hook. There was no stopping the away side 30 seconds from time though, centre Tonge looping out wide to even the scores. Arthars converted for the Storm to steal the win.
Newcastle Knights 24 (T: Butterfield, Soper-Lawler, Birch, Robson, G: McNamara 4/4)
Melbourne Storm 26 (T: Drinkwater 3, Kerr, Tonge, G: Arthars 3/5)
1. Nick Meaney, 2. Kainoa Gudgeon, 3. Brayden Musgrove, 4. Henry Penn, 5. Matt Soper-Lawler, 6. Jake McNamara, 7. Hayden Herbert, 8. Tyrone Amey (c), 9. Nick Newman, 17. Jayden Butterfield, 11. Eddy Tuilotolova, 12. Sam Stone, 13. Braden Robson. Interchange: 14. Nash Birch, 15. Heath Gibbs, 16. Cameron King, 10. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown.