Newy brought back to earth
THE Newcastle Knights’ travelled to Melbourne yesterday as the NRL’s form team with six straight wins.
They returned home last night after a reality check, thumped and comprehensively outplayed by the Storm 34-4.
Blues Origin hopefuls Mitchell Pearce and Daniel Saifiti were disappointing, along with champion fullback Kalyn Ponga, who struggled to make an impact.
They were completely overshadowed by Storm and Queensland Maroons fiveeighth Cameron Munster.
Two words best describe Melbourne Storm right now: the benchmark.
NO EXCUSES Knights coach Nathan Brown was disappointed at his postgame press conference.
“In the end it was too easy for them,” he said, “We played the best side and the most professional side and clearly showed we weren’t quite ready for it. I hope we can look at it as a good lesson.
“It’s disappointing we didn’t give our best shot. They were very professional and too good. But we shouldn’t be judged on one game.”
Asked about Pearce’s below-par performance, Brown defended his No.7.
“It’s hard to play when you turn the ball over like we did,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who your halfback is in these circumstances. It’s a team sport. You need a lot of people to play good football for your best players to have an opportunity.”
KNIGHT- MARE Beating Melbourne in Melbourne is hard enough without gifting Storm both territory and possession with clumsy mistakes.
The Knights completed at a miserable 58 per cent in the first 22 minutes yesterday, compared to Melbourne’s 83 per cent, to gift-wrap the win for the men in purple.
As is often the case, too, Storm took their chances and even created a few of their own with rib-rattling tackles. Josh Addo-Carr and Nelson AsofaSolomona forced turnovers early, while Felise Kaufusi kept the Knights at bay with vicelike hands in the defensive line as the visitors threatened to score close to halftime from repeat sets inside the Storm 10m.
UGLY ACT Newcastle’s Mitchell Barnett will get a holiday for a dangerous crusher tackle on Storm fullback Jahrome Hughes. After being dragged off Hughes, the Knights’ secondrower took a swipe at Cameron Smith, resulting in players from both teams coming together in the middle of the field as Storm medical staff tended to Hughes. Barnett was placed on report but avoided the sin bin. Hughes, thankfully, was cleared of any damage and played out the game.
The Storm’s Dale Finucane is held up by the Knights.