Another very good game of footy though on a great weekend of matches. Five of the 8 games went down to the final few minutes. Cooper Cronk has picked up the TV man of the match. That's it for tonight. Catch you next time
Melbourne were very good for long patches tonight, and Newcastle didn't throw in the towel, but the Storm were just too consistent. Of course, the 15-7 penalty count in the Storm's favour didn't hurt. As I said before, Melbourne have given up some points this year and that will be a concern for Craig Bellamy.
Full time: Melbourne win 28-20. It's only the second time Newcastle have lost their first 3 games of the season. The last time was in 2005 when they lost 13 straight to start the season.
77th min: Slater is taken out chasing through on a high kick. The Storm keep the pressure on. It's still 28-20.
Newcastle's Matt Minto knocks on 5 metres out from his own line and the Storm go in for the kill. It's 28-20 with 5 to go.
Whatever happens in the final 10 mins the Knights have been brave tonight. They've looked gone a couple of times but they refuse to lie down. Melbourne have given up some points again tonight and their defence will be a concern for Craig Bellamy.
It's always a hair-raising experience when Storm forward Kevin Proctor is on the burst. Photo: Getty Images
67th min: Cameron Smith dives over from dummy half through some pretty ragged defence after the Storm (as they do) had built some good pressure. Smith can't convert and the Storm lead 28-20.
Knights forward Alex McKinnon on the ground after being tackled by the Melbourne Storm. He was stretchered off the field. Photo: Getty Images
That try takes Uate to second on the list of try scorers for the Newcastle Knights, and he's just 3 behind Timana Tahu.
61st min: The Knights are right back in this. And it's Uate again. Dobson hits Dane Gagai with a brilliant cut-out pass, Slater cuts down Gagai metres out, but Gagai offloads at the last minute to Uate. Another classy try down the right for Newcastle. Gidley misses the conversion from near touch, and the Storm lead 24-20. Cracking finish in prospect. Any chance the Storm winning with a late drop goal?
57th min: Young Tonumaipea narrowly misses adding his name to the list of wingers to have scored amazing tries in round 3. He twists, turns and dives, but his hand is on the chalk moments before he puts the ball down in the corner. No try.
51st min: Just when things were looking bad for the Knights, Tyrone Roberts chips wide and hits Akuila Uate on the chest with a great kick and Uate scores out wide. Roberts converts from near touch to narrow the Storm's lead to 24-16.
Thoughts with @mckinnon92. Likeable young fella. Future Test player. Hope he is OK — Robert Dillon (@robertdillon174) March 24, 2014
44th min: Cooper Cronk chips back to the short side and Young Tonumaipea gets behind Uate to score his first try in the NRL. Smith converts for a 24-10 lead. This could get ugly for the Knights, who are a man short for the second half.
Alex McKinnon is being taken to hospital. We will let you know as soon as we have a further update. — Newcastle Knights (@NRLKnights) March 24, 2014
No shortage of talking points in the first half. The Knights started well, but once the Storm clicked into gear (on the back of a run of penalties) they were very hard to stop. The Storm ran in 3 tries in 10 minutes at one point. No news yet on the condition of Alex McKinnon as the second half gets under way.
I actually can't watch a replay of the McKinnon injury.... Sickening. Total accident though. — Michael Carayannis (@MCarayannis) March 24, 2014
40th min: Jordan McLean is put on report for the tackle and the Knights get a penalty in front. Tyrone Roberts bangs over the penalty, but Melbourne lead 18-10 at half-time.
40th min: Newcastle's Alex McKinnon is put in a very dangerous position in a lifting tackle. McKinnon ducks his head at the last minute and this doesn't look great. McKinnon is moving his arms, which is a good sign. The silence in the crowd is deafening and he is carried from the field on a stretcher.
38th min: Will Chambers releases Sisa Waqa down the right and he is dragged down just 5 metres out, but the Storm drop the ball. The Newcastle defence looks fragile.
Slater chases through after a chip kick and just fails to regather. Another near miss for Newcastle. They'll be doing well to get to half-time just 10 points down.
33rd min: And on the back of those penalties the Storm are in again. They go wide to the left and Billy Slater hits Will Chambers at pace and he's too strong from close range. Smith narrowly misses the conversion and the Storm lead 18-8.
Penalties are killing the Knights - they've given away 7 in just 30 mins.
30th min: The pressure finally tells. After several tackles on their own line, the Newcastle defence cracks. Cooper Cronk picks out Kevin Proctor down the right for a classic Melbourne try. Slater lurking out the back distracts the defence and Cronk plays short for Proctor. Smith Converts for an 14-8 lead.
26th min: A couple of tackles after the kick-off the Storm spread it wide and nearly score again. It takes desperate Newcastle defence to stop them.
23rd min: Leilua loses the ball in a tackle for Newcastle, Mahe Fonua picks up the crumbs, passes to Sisa Waqa who scores in the corner. The video ref agrees the tackle was OK. Smith converts and it's 8-all.
17th min: Jesse Bromwich penalised for a lifting tackle right in front. And Kurt Gidley knocks over the penalty for an 8-2 lead.
15th min: Jordan McLean bursts onto the ball for Melbourne and goes very close to scoring. The decision is referred upstairs, but the referee's decision is upheld and it's no try.
13th minute: The Knights go wide and James McManus just can't pull in the pass and very narrowly misses a chance for Newcastle in the left-hand corner.
The Knights have got great energy early. This could be another Newcastle upset in Melbourne looming.
7th minute: After 3 straight penalties to the Storm, the Knights get a penalty, work it up the other end and score a try in their first set of six for the match. Michael Dobson's grubber rebounds off the post and Jeremy Smith scores. Kurt Gidley converts for a 6-2 lead for the Knights.
3rd minute: Penalty right in front. Cameron Smith converts and the Storm lead 2-0.
G'day and welcome to the final game of the round, as the Storm welcome the Knights to AAMI Park. The Knights have the early bragging rights, with a huge 50-0 win in the Holden Cup over their hosts. The players are out on the pitch, kick-off is imminent.
Warming up at AAMI Park #goKnights #NRLnelnew pic.twitter.com/yFh1Hy6Tal — Newcastle Knights (@NRLKnights) March 24, 2014
Melbourne Storm v Newcastle Knights
At AAMI Park, Monday 7pm
Referees: Gerard Sutton, Gavin Morris
Last clash: Knights 18 bt Storm 16 at AAMI Park, semi-final 2013
Ladbrokes: Storm $1.29, Knights $3.70
Betfair: Storm $1.28, Knights $4.10
AAP writes: Both sides named unchanged line-ups for this clash - and at first glance that is all the rivals appear to have in common in what on paper looms as a David and Goliath battle. The Knights have had a win-less season start while the Storm have not dropped a game after two rounds. However, Melbourne appear to be riding their luck - a notion supported by their one point last round win over a gutsy Penrith. And the Knights will be one of the few teams to arrive in Melbourne full of confidence, even without Jarrod Mullen and Darius Boyd. The last time the teams met in the 2013 semi-finals Newcastle pulled off one of the great upsets to send the Storm spiralling out of the title race.
Key: Will Melbourne be able to rectify last round’s effort against Penrith and aim up on the right flank. They better - Newcastle’s Dane Gagai and Akuila Uate average more than 160 metres each after two rounds.
Michael Chammas writes: A field goal has been the difference for Melbourne in their first two wins of the season. This one should be another tight contest, but without Jarrod Mullen the Knights could lack the direction and class to land the killer blow. The Storm will only get better and should be good enough on home soil to continue their perfect start to the year. Storm by 2.
STORM: Billy Slater, Sisa Waqa, Will Chambers, Mahe Fonua, Young Tonumaipea, Ben Hampton, Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (capt), Bryan Norrie, Kevin Proctor, Ryan Hoffman, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Kenny Bromwich, Tohu Harris, Jordan McLean, George Rose.
KNIGHTS: Matt Minto, James McManus, Dane Gagai, Joey Leilua, Akuila Uate, Michael Dobson, Tyrone Roberts, Kade Snowden, Kurt Gidley (capt), Willie Mason, Beau Scott, Robbie Rochow, Jeremy Smith. Interchange: Travis Waddell, Chris Houston, Alex McKinnon, Adam Cuthbertson, David Fa’alogo (one to be omitted).