Melbourne Storm’s Jersey Flegg side has been narrowly defeated by the Newcastle Knights 26-18 at Comely Banks Reserve.
With plenty of young talent in the squad, Storm refused to go away despite facing all sorts of adversity throughout the contest, pushing the Knights all the way until the final whistle.
Having played in the centres in the opening seven rounds, Storm Academy product Mitchell Jennings made the switch into the second row while Storm top-30 player AJ Gudgeon moved into the centres and local product Joshua Berryman got his first start at fullback.
Storm got off to a flying start after hooker Gabriel Satrick showed his elusive footwork and pace, bursting through the Knights defence before the ball found its
way to try scoring machine Matthew Hill who strolled over in the 4th minute.
Despite Storm seemingly controlling the opening 15 minutes of the contest, Knights would find a way back into the contest after Luke Pietzner used his size to his advantage to fly high up in the sky to score in the 17th minute.
Pietzner would find a way through down that left edge once again just five minutes later, managing to bring it round for an easier conversion attempt.
Tries to Edward Hampson either side of the break helped extend the visitors lead out to 20-points before Storm began to assert their authority on the contest, setting up a tense final 30-minutes of play.
Having found joy down the left edge all season long, Storm continued that trend once again in the 42nd minute, shifting it left and Hill showing some great footwork to beat his opposite man and score in the corner.
With momentum well and truly in their favour, Storm rolled downfield five minutes later and Jerry Musu showed great determination to carry a number of Knights defenders with him and score under the posts in the 47th minute.
Trailing by eight points, Storm looked to have closed the gap even further when Mitchell Jennings poked his nose through to score in the corner, only for the try not to count after it was deemed Jennings contacted the sideline in the process of scoring.
With the dubious decision not going their way, it ultimately took the wind out of their sails and Storm were resigned to the eight-point defeat.
Storm will have a short turnaround as it now gears up to face the 3rd placed Sharks in Sydney on Thursday.