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Slater and Hoffman help Storm to win

Billy Slater

Melbourne Origin duo Billy Slater and Ryan Hoffman conjured some magic to pull a win out of the hat for the Storm in their NRL duel with Newcastle.
Slater and Hoffman help Storm to win
by AAP

By Melissa Woods

MELBOURNE, June 16 AAP - Melbourne Origin duo Billy Slater and Ryan Hoffman conjured some magic to pull a win out of the hat for the Storm in their NRL duel with Newcastle.

The Storm trailed the Knights all match but with 10 minutes remaining NSW work-horse Hoffman slipped the ball out the back of a tackle to Slater who stepped around his Queensland teammate Darius Boyd to touch down.

Another Queensland Origin star, Cameron Smith, then nailed the conversion for the 18-16 victory.

It was more heart-break for Newcastle, who threw everything at the Storm and at one stage led 14-4.

It was their fourth successive loss and Melbourne's third straight win.

"We just keep walking away with the effort and not many points at the moment," said Knights coach Wayne Bennett.

"Sometimes you lose and you win and I hope today was one of those days, with what we got out of it as a team; to realise how good we can be."

The Knights burst out of the blocks and were well-positioned for their first win in Melbourne since 2004 thanks to a brace of tries by winger Joey Leilua to lead 14-10 at halftime.

He spun out of a Slater tackle to cross in the fifth minute, with the fullback troubled after injuring his dodgy knee in an early tackle.

Slater also took a knock to his face later in the half but showed his champion qualities to produce the match-winner.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy said Newcastle made his team really work for the result.

"I thought they (Newcastle) played really well," he said.

"They defended really well and certainly controlled the ball really well in the first half and it was a bit of a slog for us."

The Storm lacked their usual finishing polish, with gun Queensland halfback Cooper Cronk rested from the game.

Bellamy said Cronk was "generally sore" after training this week but wasn't in any danger of missing the second Origin on Wednesday week.

His replacement, Brett Finch, in his first NRL start this season, was unable to make the same impact with an ineffective kicking game.

Craig Gower, who hadn't played in the NRL since 2007, made a successful return after cutting short his UK Super League contract to join the Knights this week.

Bennett was happy with the 35-year-old former Test star's contribution.

"He wasn't a liability which is the first thing you're looking for and he'll be a lot better for that," Bennett said.


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