Not a great day at the office for the nib Newcastle Knights, which despite a promising start went down to a solid Melbourne Storm 28-10 at McDonald Jones Stadium on a windy Sunday afternoon.
Signs were good early for the Knights, but errors that crept in proved costly, as Melbourne stormed ahead to take control of the match.
Match Highlights: Knights v Storm
It was end-to-end football for the opening ten minutes but despite a close encounter with Melbourne's line, the Knights couldn't capitalise and dropped the ball 10 metres out.
The Storm waited until the 16th minute to find some space beside the posts and Ryley Jacks sailed through a gap to ground the first try of the afternoon. Cameron Smith added the extras to see the visitors take the lead, 6-0.
Again, another mistake crept in close to the line as Shaun Kenny-Dowall mishandled the ball and possession was gifted back to the Storm.
The Storm were testing the referees patience in the ruck which saw the Knights handed a 10 metre penalty, and out of dummy half Kalyn Ponga challenged three Melbourne defenders to crash through for the Knights first.
Ponga kicked it straight through the middle of the sticks to level the score line, 6-all after 32 minutes.
Pressure from the Storm forced another turnover and despite a pin-point kick to the goal line, the Knights had some luck as the ball dribbled over the dead ball line.
Newcastle were on a mission to the line shortly after but a quick grubber by Connor Watson got tangled in Melbourne defenders.
Cameron Munster smoothly picked up the crumbs to sprint his way to the line before he wisely off-loaded to speedster Josh Ado-Carr who ran it the rest of the way for a length of the field try.
Smith made no mistake with the conversion and it was Storm in the lead 12-6 after 37 minutes, before a clumsy penalty out in-front saw Melbourne kick for the penalty goal 30 seconds before the break.
Smith booted the two and it was the Storm in the lead, 14-6, at halftime.
30 seconds into the second half, Watson broke free and was on his way to the line but a disappointing pass stopped the Knights in their tracks.
In the 44th minute, quick handling of the ball between Ponga, Cory Denniss and finally to Ken Sio saw the winger dive over in the left corner for an aerial stunner. The wind wreaked havoc on the kick yet again and Ponga was denied the two points. Storm led 14-10.
Some undisciplined play in the ruck cost the Knights a penalty right in front of the posts and Smith nailed it to put Melbourne in the lead by a converted try, 16-10.
Another unchallenged try came from the Storm in the 54th minute, with an impressive tackle break from Munster who instantly looked for Ado-Carr to run 60 metres to the line for the double. Melbourne extended their lead, 22-10.
The Storm continued to fire, and after moving the ball from left to right, found Suliasi Vunivalu in the pocket to dive over for their next four points. Smith kept the perfect kicking record with another conversion; the Storm 28-10 after 61 minutes.
Another penalty swung Melbourne's way and Smith tried his luck from 40 metres out, but it just fell short with 13 minutes on the clock.
A swifty break by Ponga got the crowd cheering but the Storm had the play defensively under wraps and won back the ball confidently after two tackles.
The final 19 minutes of the match played out scoreless and the Storm continued their winning credentials with a 28-10 victory over the Knights.
Knights 10 (T: Ponga, Sio G: Ponga 1/2)
Storm 28 (T: Jacks, Ado-Carr 2, Vunivalu G: Smith 4/4, PG: Smith 2/3)