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Mullen says halftime lead was critical

Newcastle skipper Jarrod Mullen knew what needed to be done to upset the NRL premiers in hostile territory.
Mullen says halftime lead was critical
by AAP

By Guy Hand

MELBOURNE, Sept 22 AAP - Newcastle skipper Jarrod Mullen knew what needed to be done to upset the NRL premiers in hostile territory.

"You've got to be in front of Melbourne by halftime. They win a lot of games when they lead at halftime," Mullen said.

Which made Chris Houston's late first half try to give the Knights a 12-4 advantage at the break the key to unlocking fortress Melbourne - and an eventual 18-16 semi-final upset of the Storm at AAMI Park.

Few gave the Knights much hope - even against a Storm side which wasn't firing on all cylinders over the past three weeks.

Melbourne's aura, along with a long Knights losing streak against the Storm, made it a formality for all but a Newcastle outfit Mullen says are believing in the momentum they are starting to generate.

Now the Knights take on minor premiers the Roosters at Allianz Stadium next Saturday for the right to play in the grand final.

And they will take much confidence from holding off the Storm as they charged late.

"I had faith in our boys we could hang on," Mullen said.

"We're playing some pretty good football at the right end of the year."

Coach Wayne Bennett spoke post-match of the "uncharted waters" his team had now entered following a memorable semi-final triumph.

For Mullen, 26 and in his ninth NRL season, it is the closest he has been to the premiership all players crave.

"I'm pretty overwhelmed actually. I've never been in this position before, going into a playoff game to play in a grand final," he said.

"It's something everyone in the team's worked hard for all year. It's a pretty surreal feeling."


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