Storm fight off late comeback to knock out Knights

THE Melbourne Storm have fought off a late comeback to defeat the Knights 18-8 in front of a 14800 crowd at AAMI Park.

The was not much seperating the teams early in the match, as both sides worked through their sets quickly.

However a dropped ball by Neville Costigan in the 15th minute opened the door for Matthew Duffie who pounced on the loose ball and raced away to score.

The Storm took control of the match following the try, dominationg posession and field position and bashing the Knights all over the park. 

A well executed set play on the back of a penalty in 29th minute created a try for centre Beau Champion who scored in the left corner. Cameron Smith missed the conversion.

Melbourne were over again in the 35th minute after a brilliant crossfield banana kick from Cooper Cronk was fumbled by the Knights and Sika Manu grounded the ball. 

The Knights were given an oportunity to score in the final minute of the half after making some good meters up the field, however a poorly weighted kick on the last ensured the score stayed unchanged at the break.

The visitors began the second half strongly, making great meters from their first sets, however poor discipline from the Knights saw the Storm come up with all the opprtunities early in the second half. 

However the Knights defence held strong and the Storm only came away with two points courtesy of a penalty goal in the 51st minute. 

The visitors continued to hand the Storm good field position but the Knights defence was up to the challenge.

The Knights were rewarded for their desperate defence with two repeat sets at the Storm line in the 63rd minute. Kurt Gidley sliced through the Storm defence and the visitors were on the scoreboard. However Gidley failed to add the extras. 

The Knights were over again in the 67th minute when Akuila Uate scored courtesy of a Jarrod Mullen cut out pass. Gidley failed to convert the try again. 

The Knights were given numerous opportunities to continue their comeback in the final ten minutes of the game, however a lack of creativity from the Knights' halfback, poor ball handling and some strong defence from the Storm kept them out. 

James McManus appeared to have scored in the 79th minute, however replays revealed he had dropped the ball trying to ground it. 

While the scorecard suggests there was only a try and two goals in it, the Storm always looked to be in control of the match. Billy Slater was exceptional at the back, while Cameron Smith was brilliant as always out of dummy half and Cooper Cronk's boot troubled the Knights all match.



Match Details
Melbourne Storm 18 defeated Newcastle Knights 8
National Rugby League - Finals Week 1 - Sunday September 11, 2011 4:00pm
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Ashley Klein and Adam Devcich
Video Referee: Paul Simpkins
Touch Judges: Jeff Younis and Adam Reid
Crowd: 14800
Halftime: Melbourne Storm 16 Newcastle Knights 0

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Billy Slater
2 Points - Cooper Cronk
1 Point - Cameron Smith (1 Conversion, 1 Penalty Goal)

MELBOURNE STORM (18)
Tries: Beau Champion, Sika Manu, Matt Duffie
Conversions: Cameron Smith (1/2)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (1/1)

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS (8)
Tries: Kurt Gidley, Akuila Uate
Conversions: Kurt Gidley (0/2), Cameron Ciraldo (1/1)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good Afternoon folks and welcome to AAMI Park for the final match of the first week of the 2011 Finals Series where the Melbourne Storm take on the Newcastle Knights.
The home side welcome back their stars in Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Jesse Bromwich and Brian Norrie.
The Storm have announced one late change, Garreth Widdop who hobbled off the field last week will play, he joins Cooper Cronks in the halves with Maurice Blair making way for the Englishman.
The visitors have announced no late changes and will go into the match with the 17 named on Tuesday night.
In the Toyota Cup Final the Melbourne Storm defeated the Sydney Roosters 26-10 after trailing 10-6 at half time.
With only a minutes to go until kick off the Melbourne Storm have announced another late change, Ryan Kostjasyn has pulled out of the match with a hamstring injury and will be replaced by Atelea Vea on the bench.
1 min: Kurt Gidley kicks off to bring the game under way.
1 min: Gidley fields Cronk's kick 15 out from his own line and runs it back to 30 out from his own line.
2 min: The Knights finish their first set 20 meters into the Storm half and Mullen goes high in the air but Slater leaps above the pack and fields the kick meters out from his try line.
3 min: The Storm get a penalty and should be on the attack at the end of this set.
4 min: The Storm will get six again after a bomb from Cronk comes off a Knights player before Slater bats the ball back to his team mate.
4 min: Norrie loses the ball trying to play it 10 out from the Knights' line.
5 min: The Knights completer their set in Storm territory again and Mullen finds touch 15 out from the Storm line.
7 min: Melbourne make 65 meters on their set before Cronk goes to the air, McManus does well to diffuse the kick only meters out from his try line.
8 min: Costigan is pinned for a forward pass to McManus just as the Knights were looking very dangerous. The Storm will get the ball 40 out from their own line.
9 min: Cronk puts up a bomb from 30 out on the last and Uate takes it on the full in his own in goal.
10 min: Cameron pulls off a one on one strip on halfway and the Storm will go on the attack here.
11 min: Slater puts in a grubber on the fourth but it goes straight to Gidley. Mullen is clutching at his wrist in back play, it does not look good for the Knights' halfback.
12 min: Knights get their first penalty of the match.
12 min: Gidley puts through a grubber on the third but Slater cleans it up before the chasers can get there. Uate is there to tackle Slater but drags him back into the in goal after the try is completed and is penalised.
14 min: Widdop puts up a bomb from half way on the last, McManus fields it 10 out from his own line and runs it back to his 20.
16 min: TRY
Nevile Costigan loses the ball on his own 40 and the ball lands in the arms of Matt Duffie who streaks down the field to score the opening try of the match. Smith add the extras.
Melbourne Storm 6-0
17 min: Smith kicks from his own 40 on the fourth tackle and it goes straight down the throat of Gidley who runs it back to his own 40.
18 min: Mullen puts up a bomb 30 out from the Storm line, but Slater is as reliable as ever and fields the ball cleanly.
19 min: Smith kicks the ball from half way on the last and the ball bounces awkwardly for Gidley who fields it right in front of the posts before getting hammered 8 meters out from his own line.
20 min: Mullen tries to find his winger with a chip kick but Duffie is there to field it 40 out from his own line.
20 min: Newcastle concede a penalty on halfway.
21 min: Duffie loses the ball only meters out from the Knights' line, he then throws the ball away and concedes a penalty.
22 min: Houstan loses the ball 40 out from the Storm line.
23 min: Widdop puts a kick in on the last and it hits the upright but Costigan is able to clean it up for the Knights.
23 min: Newcastle get a penalty just short of halfway, they should get some good field position.
25 min: Knights get six again after Mullen attempts a grubber on tackle free and it comes off a Storm players' leg.
26 min: Mullen puts up a chip kick on the third and Slater takes it in his own in goal. Poor effort there by the Knights.
27 min: Cronk puts up a towering bomb 40 out from the Knights' line but McManus' arms are safe and does well to diffuse it.
27 min: Widdop pulls off an intercept 40 out from his own line and the Storm will get some more good field position.
28 min: Knights concede a penalty,
30 min: TRY
A beautiful set play by the Storm creates and overlap and Champion is over for the Storm. Smith's conversion attempt is unsuccessful.
Melbourne Storm 10-0
31 min: Smith goes to the air 30 out from the Knights' line but Gidley diffuses it a few meters out from his tryline before going to ground.
32 min: Mullen boots it down the field from halfway on the last and Duffie fields it 10 meters from his own line and runs it back to the 20 meter line.
33 min: Smith finds the grass in between Gidley and Uate with his kick on the last and the ball bounces into the in goal before Gidley runs it out.
34 min: Mullen finds touch ten out from the Storm line on the back of a better set by the Knights.
35 min: Knights are penalised before the scrum even packs after Macdougall was punished for abusing referee Ashley Klein.
35 min: Possible Storm try here.
37 min: TRY
Try! Cronk puts up a brilliant cross field kick and Uate gets to the ball first but can't take it, Slater bats it back but MacDougall is there to grab the loose ball but loses it and Sika Manu is there to score for the Storm. Smith's conversion attempt is successful.
Melbourne Storm 16-0
38 min: Another brilliant take by McManus after Cronk puts up another bomb from halfway.
39 min: Brilliant set by the Knights, they run it on the last before Uate puts in a chip kick from 20 out, but he puts too much on it and it rolls dead.
40 min: Quinn is tackled on the fourth as the half time siren sounds.
41 min: The second half is under way!
42 min: Great opening set by the Knights and they finish up 30 out from the Storm line before Mullen goes to the air and Slater catches the ball only to be tackled to the ground meters out from his own line.
42 min: Melbourne are awarded a penalty on tackle two, and will get a full set of six 40 out from their own line.
43 min: Melbourne will get six again 10 out from the Knights' line after McManus could not handle a Cronk bomb.
44 min: Manu loses the ball ten out from the Knights' line and the visitors are off the hook for now.
45 min: The Storm will get a scrum on halfway after a bomb from Mullen takes a wicked bounce backwards and Uate is caught with the ball on the fifth tackle.
46 min: Proctor puts in a grubber on the last ten out from the Knights' line but there's too much on it and it goes dead.
47 min: Mullen goes to the air again on the last but Slater is there diffuse the bomb meters out from his own line.
48 min: The Storm will get a line dropout after Gidley lands in his own in goal after leaping in the air to diffuse a Cooper Cronk bomb.
50 min: Storm get a penalty on the last tackle.
51 min: PENALTY GOAL
The Storm opt to go for the two and Cameron Smith has no problem slotting it over.
Melbourne Storm 18-0
52 min: The Storm will get another line dropout after Gidley is forced to bat dead a Cameron Smith grubber.
54 min: McManus cleans up Cronk's grubber a few meters out from the try line and the Knights survive again.
55 min: Mullen finds space with his kick which lands on the Melbourne 10 meter line before Duffie picks it up and runs it back.
56 min: Manu makes a break down the and the Storm go on the attack again however a wayward pass find Chris Houstan who knocks on ten out from his own pass. Melbourne scrum 10 meters out from the Knights' line.
57 min: Six defenders combine to deny Sika Manu a try on the fourth.
57 min: The Knights hold the Storm out again.
58 min: Mullen finds space with his kick ten out from the Storm line again.
59 min: Cronk's kick takes an awful bounce in the in goal and Gidley is just able to run it back into the field of play.
59 min: The Knights get a relieving penalty.
61 min: The Knights' are penalised for a hand in the play the ball 30 out from the Storm line and the homeside will get another chance to go on the attack.
62 min: Lowrie loses the ball meters out from the Knights' line after a good tackle from Jarrod Mullen.
63 min: The Knights get six again ten out from the Storm line after the Knights run it on the last and the ball is knocked out of Gidley's hands.
65 min: TRY
Kurt Gidley slices through the Melbourne defence to score the opening try of the half. Gidley fails to convert his own try.
Melbourne Storm 18-4
66 min: Knights get a penalty on the third and will go on the attack again.
67 min: Possible try to Akuilla Uate here, just need to make sure it was grounded.
69 min: TRY
TRY! Simpkins give Uate the greenlight, the try was created after the Knights' went to the right quickly and Mullen through a cut out pass to his winger Uate who scores. Gidley's conversion attempt from the sideline is unsuccessful.
Melbourne Storm 18-8
69 min: The Knights finish their set a few meters into the Storm territory before Mullen goes to the air. Slater fields the ball 15 out from his own line and runs it back to the 20.
70 min: The Knights will get a scrum ten out from their own line after Cronk kicks for touch on the last.
71 min: Newcastle get a penalty 30 out from their own line after a high shot on Costigan.
72 min: Knights are pinned for a forward pass only 30 out. A costly error there.
73 min: Smith's kick goes dead in goal and the Knights will get a tap 20.
74 min: Stig puts up a bomb from 40 out but Slater is safe again and takes 15 out from his own try line.
76 min: Mullen goes for a bomb on the last again and once again Slater diffuses it easily ten out from his own line.
78 min: The Knights will get a penalty in the Storm half after Billy Slater is pinned for pushing Mullen over after Mullen passed the ball.
79 min: Possible try to McManus here.
79 min: No try! McManus lost the ball trying to ground it.
80 min: Uate attempts a chip and chase with only seconds to go, but Widdop is there to field it and that's the match.

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