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Knights coach Nathan Brown admits his team learned a “huge lesson” against the Storm

NEWCASTLE were in the wrong place at the wrong time as Melbourne Stormrediscovered their championship mojo ina 40-14blitzat AAMI Park on Friday night.
Nanjing Night Net

TRY TIME: Tim Glasby scores for Melbourne against the Knights.

After successive losses to Cronulla and Wests Tigers, Melbournebounced back to their fearsome best with a three-try spreein the opening quarter that left the Knights playing catch-up.

Newcastle coach Nathan Brown said it was a “pretty good effort” from his troops to reduce the deficit to 18-8 byhalf-time but admitted they had learned “a huge lesson” playing against the defending premiers.

“The past 12 or 14 years, I think the Storm have been the premier sporting club in Australia,” Brown said.

“I think they’ve played in six or seven grand finals and been in the top four every year except for one, when they ran fifth.

“To come here and win, you need to have people playing well …they’re a very, very good football team, and we haven’t been beaten by monkeys, that’s for sure.”

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said he was “really happy’ with his team’s attackafter scoring only one try in their previous two games.

“All of a sudden we scored seven tries tonight and completed at 80 per cent,” he said.

“The last couple of weeks we’ve been completing at 60 something per cent. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out what works.”

Storm skipper Cameron Smith was “extremely pleased” with his team’s dominant start and said Bellamy had relieved the pressure on his players during the week by reminding them to “go out and enjoy playing football together”.

The result continued Newcastle’s dire run in the Victorian capital.

It was theirninth loss in 11 games at AAMI, and their 18thdefeatin 22 games at all Melbourne venues.

The Storm exploded out of the blocks with a try before the visitors had even touched the ball, after winger Josh Addo-Carr finished off a Billy Slater line break.

Slater created the Storm’s next trywith a 10th-minute chip kick that bounced perfectly forfor right-side winger Suliasi Vunivalu.

When lock Tim Glasby crashed onto a short ball to score in the 16thminute, a cricket score appeared on the cards.

The Storm, boosted by a 7-0 penalty count, had raced to an 18-0 lead.

But the momentum swung late in the second half and Newcastle pegged back two tries before the break, reducing the deficit to 18-8.

Their first pointscame in the 29thminute when fullback Kalyn Ponga, with a trademark goosestep and short ball, sent Lachlan Fitzgibbon crashing over for his fourth try of the year.

A minute before half-time, Knights skipper Mitchell Pearce hit winger Ken Sio with a perfect cut-out pass and he scored in the corner, injuring his hip pointeras he crashed through Melbourne’s cover defenders.

Newcastle’s hopes of continuing their fightback were dented in the 47thminute when Fitzgibbon was sin-binned for a professional foul, after trying to prevent Slater from taking a quick tap from a penalty.

Within a minute, Melbourne had spun the ball to their left edge where Addo-Carr stretched out to score again, despite the tackle of Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

There was a classic moment in the 59thminute when Ponga broke clear and, one on one, the veteran Slater rounded him up in a tackle that jolted the ball free.

Two minutes later, Vunivalu scored his second try of the game and Newcastle were left facing an impossible task.

It continued the Fijian’s remarkable strike rate against the Knights. In four games against Newcastle, he has crossed the stripe six times.

Sio picked up a bracein the 66thminute, after a Ponga pass, but Melbourne hit back with a try by Test back-rower Felise Kaufusi.

A try by bench prop Sam Kasiano in the 75thminute completed the scoring.

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