The nib Newcastle Knights were defeated 44-12 by the Melbourne Storm at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors were caught off guard as the Knights got off to a speedy start but the Storm showed why they’re top of the ladder, grinding out a convincing win thanks to a hat-trick from Brodie Croft.
The Storm’s Jesse Bromwich had an early breather, sent to the sin bin for a professional foul on Jamie Buhrer minutes from the starting siren.
A penalty saw repeated sets as Knights forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon went for his third try in three games and crashed over just four minutes in. Trent Hodkinson nailed the conversion as Newcastle led 6-0.
The visitors hit back soon after, a high kick did the job for the Storm as Curtis Scott finished off with the try. Cameron Smith struggled against the wind and missed the conversion. Knights led 6-4.
Melbourne hit the front in the 21st minute via Dale Finucane who muscled his way over the line for the Storm’s second. Smith added the extras out in front as Melbourne led, 10-6.
The Storm could’ve had their third down the left edge via Josh Addo-Carr but his foot was on the line and the bunker denied the try.
Minutes before the halftime siren, Brodie Croft faked a pass to dodge his way to the line. Melbourne extended their lead 16-6 into the break.
In the second half, Croft with some fancy footwork to break free to dive over for the double in the 48th minute. The visitors stretched their lead, 22-6.
In the 55th minute, Fitzgibbon broke free 20 metres out to off-load to Englishman Joe Wardle to slide over. Hodkinson nailed the conversion in front, but the Storm were quick to reply.
Will Chambers crashed through on the right edge before Croft stepped his way around the defence to get the hat-trick 65 minutes in. The Storm led 34-12.
There was further carnage from the Storm, as winger Suliasi Vunivalu found space out wide to dive over for the try in the 69th minute before a late try a minute before the siren from Nelson Asofa-Solomona gave Melbourne the resounding win 44-12.
Newcastle Knights 12 (T: Fitzgibbon, Wardle, G: Hodkinson 2/2)
Melbourne Storm 44 (T: Scott, Finucane, Croft 3, Chambers, Vunivalu, Asofa-Solomona, G: Smith 6/8)