A 48 point thrashing saw the Melbourne Storm continue their winning ways as the Newcastle Knights hit rock bottom with yet another loss.
Melbourne entered the game in blistering form with intentions to hand out another demolition to a vastly out of form Newcastle who were staring down the barrel at six consecutive defeats.
The Storm had won on the past ten straight occasions against Newcastle leading into the Sunday afternoon contest.
Already entering the match with the absence of Dane Gagai and Kurt Mann, the Knights had the worst of starts, where they did not touch the football for the opening ten minutes.
Following Jake Clifford kicking out on the full on the opening kickoff of the game, the tone was set for some sloppy defence which went from bad to worse when Sauaso Sue’s HIA resulted in his afternoon being cut short.
Unsurprisingly, Melbourne took complete advantage of the situation to put two tries on the Knights through Justin Olam and Xavier Coates before Newcastle had the chance to have a set of their own.
Ryan Papenhuyzen knocked one of the two conversions over to give Melbourne an early 10-0 lead.
Kaylyn Ponga had two notable try savers on Nick Meaney, who was repeatedly threatening to cross over for a try of his own.
Jahrome Hughes found his way onto the scorebook after a Coates infield kick on the back of some slick right edge passing, which was started by Hughes himself.
Papenhuyzen again failed to convert, as a handy 14-0 lead should’ve shown more points.
As summarised by Michael Ennis, Olam “made a mockery” of the Newcastle right edge as he ran through multiple defenders to score his second of the day.
The Papenhuyzen conversion left Newcastle with a mountain like deficit, which became even greater six minutes later when Coates also crossed over for his second.
Clifford gave the home fans something to cheer about when he converted a penalty after the buzzer, sending the teams into the halftime sheds with a 26-2 Melbourne scoreline.
Adam O’Brien’s troops began the second half in very similar fashion to the opening half, allowing Melbourne’s kickoff bounce over the dead ball line for a dropout which lead to Coates scoring to give himself back-to-back hat-trick performances.
Melbourne were toying with the Knights, as they lead by 28 points with a long thirty minutes to play for the hosts.
Both Newcastle and Melbourne’s day’s were summed up by a Harry Grant kick that bounced off the padding into the hands of Tepai Moeroa which gifted him his first try since 2019 and gave Papenhuyzen a simple conversion.
Moeroa’s good fortune came to an end on the first play of the following set, suffering an A/C joint shoulder injury which brought an end to his short stint.
After a trademark Cameron Munster strip not far from Newcastle’s line, the star five-eighth proceeded to throw a monsterous twenty metre ball which sailed over the head of multiple Storm players onto the chest of Meaney who had nothing to do other than put the ball on the spot.
The final ten minutes reflected the class of Melbourne, scoring a brilliant coast to coast team try as Meaney connected with Munster to cap off another impressive performance.
Papenhuyzen knocked over a penalty conversion to reach the half century and make it back to back to back fifty point massacres by the Storm.
Newcastle finish the round bottom of the ladder, with plenty of alarm bells ringing.
There were next to no positives for the hosts to take from the thrashing, who have put up consecutive performances which are not up to the standard required to be successful in a professional competition.
For Melbourne, they remain to be a serious contender and continue to set themselves up for a huge blockbuster in two weeks time against Penrith, which will be heavily anticipated as one of the matches of the season.
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Harry Grant (MEL)
2. Xavier Coates (MEL)
1. Justin Olam (MEL)