Storm hand Knights first NRL loss of 2020

Melbourne master Craig Bellamy taught his former apprentice another lesson on Saturday night when Storm handed Adam O’Brien’s Newcastle side their first loss of the season.

O’Brien, a Storm life member, faced his ex-team for the first time as a head coach but came away with a harsh reality check for his previously undefeated Knights.

In typical Storm fashion, skipper Cameron Smith was chief orchestrator in the 26-12 victory, keeping up the pressure on the Knights who eventually crumbled.

Smith set up two of the three first-half tries as Melbourne took an 18-2 lead into the sheds, but it could have been more if not for some defensive resilience from the Knights.

Despite a brave rally from Newcastle in the second half, their poor completion rate in the first 40 minutes was too much to overcome at the back end of the game.

The Knights briefly threatened, scoring two tries in six minutes through Bradman Best and Edrick Lee to get within a converted try with 20 minutes on the clock.

However, with the Storm on the attack, Knights enforcer David Klemmer was controversially pinged for a late shot on lock Dale Finucane in front of the posts.

Smith easily nailed the penalty from in front to give Storm a 20-12 lead with six minutes to go and take the wind out of the Knights’ sails.

A late try to Brandon Smith sealed the win for Melbourne in the dying minutes when he burrowed over from close to the line.

The Knights had earlier shown signs of the defensive resilience they have displayed so far this season when Storm had four consecutive sets on their line without points.

Although Storm had 70 per cent of the possession in the first 20 minutes, the Knights conceded just one try – to Ryley Jacks – through a miscommunication in defence on the line just three minutes in.

A poor completion rate cruelled them, while the kicking game from Mitchell Pearce and Kalyn Ponga left a lot to be desired.

It was the fourth win of the season for the Storm who take on Penrith next week, while Newcastle will face Brisbane on the Central Coast on Thursday night.

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