Debutant winger Thoman Cronan scored a try in the final minute to give the Newcastle Knights a morale-boosting 26-22 trial win over Melbourne at AAMI Park on Wednesday.
The Knights, with Mitchell Pearce calling the shots at halfback in the opening 40 minutes, led 16-10 at halftime and 22-10 early in the third quarter before surviving a Storm rally to clinch a four point victory.
Pearce laid on a try with a short pass for backrower Lachlan Fitzgibbon to crash over in the opening quarter and then produced the perfect grubber for fullback Kalyn Ponga to score his first try in Knights colours early in the second half.
Melbourne went into the trial without big-name stars Cameron Smith and Billy Slater with coach Craig Bellamy also resting Kangaroos centre Will Chambers and flying winger Josh Addo-Carr.
Knights coach Nathan Brown went with arguably his strongest available 13 players in the opening quarter before giving the rest of his 26-member squad opportunities later in the game.
Pearce and Connor Watson teamed up in the halves for the first half with Jack Cogger and Brock Lamb handed the playmaking reins for the final two quarters.
A Lamb grubber produced a try for back-rower Jamie Buhrer early in the third term.