Pearce recalls painful Storm NRL meeting

Melissa Woods
Mitchell Pearce (l) says the Knights have not forgotten their NRL humbling by Melbourne in 2019

Newcastle only have to look back to last season to see how Melbourne can easily prick their premiership hopes ahead of the teams' NRL clash on Saturday afternoon at Central Coast Stadium.

The Knights are unbeaten after four rounds and stamped themselves as the team to beat after knocking over title favourites Canberra last week.

But Newcastle skipper Mitchell Pearce still bears the scars of a trip south to AAMI Park in round 14 last season which wrecked the Knights' momentum, ending a six-game winning streak and denting their finals hopes.

Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster ran amok as his team crossed for six tries to one in a 34-4 demolition job.

Despite their promising start Pearce says the Knights realise there is a long season ahead and remain wary of the Storm.

"They did teach us a big lesson down there, Melbourne, when we were down there after a streak," Pearce said on Wednesday.

"It's a long year and we've started in decent form but we've got a lot of improvement to go and we've got to turn up again on Saturday and bring what we (already) have and more."

Munster has been the Storm's best since the restart with Pearce well aware of the talents of the 25-year-old Kangaroo.

"He's certainly someone we are going to have to shut down as he's been playing really good footy," Pearce said.

Newcastle remain hopeful that injured five-eighth Kurt Mann will be able to line up despite an ankle injury, with teenager Phoenix Crossland or fellow rookie Tex Hoy likely to step in if he is unavailable.

"He looks like he's getting heaps better so fingers crossed Kurty gets through," Pearce said.

"He's been great for us. His running game has been outstanding and he was one of our best last week."

The match is coach Adam O'Brien's first clash with Melbourne, where he spent 11 years as an assistant to Craig Bellamy.

Pearce said O'Brien has already instilled some of the Storm's renowned toughness and resilience at the Knights.

"Adam's obviously an extremely hard-working coach and from what Melbourne's done Bellamy is obviously very much the same," the halfback said.

"He learnt a lot off Melbourne and I'm glad we've got him here."