Cameron Smith suffered a shoulder injury while scoring in Melbourne's 26-16 NRL win over Newcastle. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS

rugby league

Smith hurt as Storm trump Knights in NRL

2020-08-02 19:12:27

Cameron Smith scored a rare try but left the game with a shoulder injury as Melbourne continued their NRL surge in beating Newcastle 26-16 on the Sunshine Coast.

The 37-year-old Storm skipper found himself in open space before lunging over awkwardly for his first try since round 20 last year

It put him equal with coach Craig Bellamy on 46 NRL tries, in his 423rd game.

Smith kicked the conversion but then hurried off after the restart inside 30 minutes, the club confirming a low-grade AC joint injury for the former Queensland and Australian captain that could see him miss up to three weeks.

It didn’t distract his men though, with fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen scooping up a short kick to run 90 metres for a decisive try six minutes after Smith’s exit.

That created a 10-point buffer the Knights were unable to peg back.

Coach Craig Bellamy praised Smith’s replacement Brandon Smith and his halves for lifting in the absence of their influential captain.

“I said at halftime it’s going to be a good test here, they’re going to come after us and we need everyone to step up and I thought they did a really good job there,” he said. 

It was a sixth straight win for the Storm (10-2) – who kept pace with Parramatta in second place on the ladder – and a ninth straight against the Knights.

Newcastle (6-1-5) have now lost their past two to slip into a crowded race for a top-eight spot after Sunday’s defeat.

The Storm had scored 88 points in their past two games and looked set to continue on their merry way when Suliasi Vunivalu easily crossed after four minutes.

But the Knights, licking their wounds after last weekend’s loss to Canterbury, responded when Bradman Best burst through two tackles from 30m out for the reply.

Kenny Bromwich set up Smith before Papenhuyzen’s electric run created an 18-6 half-time buffer.

The Knights’ task was made tougher when bench forward Pasami Saulo was sin-binned and placed on report for tackling Jahrome Hughes in the air midway through the second half.

Aidan Guerra kept the Knights in it, Ponga converting the try he set up to make it an eight-point game with 16 minutes to go.

A leaping Vunivalu was contentiously denied another try on review, but the Storm weren’t refused a second time as the in-form Tino Fa’asuamaleaui charged 20 metres and broke two tackles to re-instate the advantage.

Enari Tuala crossed in the corner courtesy of a Kurt Mann grubber to get the Knights back within 10 points but some scrambling Storm defence ensured they didn’t get any closer.  

“It was tough, we were brave, everything I was complaining about last week I thought we had,” Knights coach Adam O’Brien said.

“There was some polish (missing) but on whole I couldn’t be more prouder of them this week. They’ve gone full scale the other way.”