Storm send Knights packing with 18-8 win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storm send Knights packing with 18-8 win

By David Beniuk 11/09/2011 08:39:05 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy hailed giant Kiwi Sika Manu for filling the hole left by the suspended enforcer Adam Blair, as the Storm earned a week off with a tradesman-like 18-8 NRL finals win over Newcastle on Sunday.

The Storm are one win away from a stunning return to the grand final after their 2010 was wiped out by the infamous salary cap scandal, the cause of a chorus of boos for NRL boss David Gallop as he handed the minor premiers the JJ Giltinan Shield.

Melbourne will play the Wests Tigers or the Warriors, who survived their loss to Brisbane with the Knights' defeat, at a venue in Melbourne in two weeks.

Manu was at his best, grabbing a 36th-minute try, as the Storm ran up a 16-0 lead by halftime.

"He's had a couple of injuries ... that took a fair bit out of him," Bellamy said.

"I don't know if it took til today to get over that but he was great today. He was simply outstanding so it was really nice to have him back to his best.

"He stepped up there and I suppose Adam Blair does that for us a little bit, he and Sika are really good mates and Sika stood up today.

"He was probably our best player and it was probably his best game of the season."

Key forward Blair was outed for a total of five weeks for his part in the now infamous Brookvale Oval brawl two weeks ago and was expected to be sorely missed by the Storm.

The home side led 18-0 before the Knights rallied with two second-half tries.

Matt Duffie, Beau Champion and Manu scored tries for Melbourne, with Cameron Smith booting three from four.

Newcastle produced two tries out of the box in three minutes through Kurt Gidley (64th minute) and Akuila Uate (67th) to make it 18-8, while winger James McManus was close in the 79th before Cooper Cronk's boot denied him.

"Certainly, when they scored that first one, I was starting to feel a little bit uncomfortable," Bellamy said.

"I try not to panic too much and I know Cameron (Smith), Billy (Slater) and Cooper certainly keep their head really well out on the field.

"I was always confident with these guys leading us on in those situations."

In his last game as head coach before becoming Wayne Bennett's assistant next year, Knights boss Rick Stone said he was proud of the fightback.

"There's probably one of two ways you could have gone at 16-0 - gone out the back door with a 40-0 scoreline against you or stand up and fight," he said.

"I definitely saw some great qualities in the second half."

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