THE Newcastle Knights crashed to last on the NRL ladder after being outclassed 50-2 by a ruthless Melbourne Storm at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday.
It was the Knights' sixth straight loss this year and 11th in a row against Melbourne and continued their slide after opening the season in impressive fashion with wins against Sydney Roosters and Wests Tigers.
Since then they have been beaten by Penrith (38-20), Cronulla (18-0), Manly (30-6), St George Illawarra (21-16) and Parramatta (39-2), before Sunday's drubbing, which was the heaviest defeat of Adam O'Brien's tenure as head coach.
The Knights have now lost their past three home games by a combined scoreline of 119-10.
Newcastle produced a disastrous start to the match when five-eighth Jake Clifford kicked out on the full and it went downhill from there.
The Storm, who last week thrashed the Warriors 70-10, drew first blood with a Justin Olam try in the third minute and ran in four tries more before half-time to lead 26-2 at the break.
Newcastle's only points of the opening half came when Clifford kicked a penalty goal after the siren.
The second half started in equally dire fashion for Newcastle when Melbourne kicked off and the home team allowed the ball to bounce over their dead-ball line.
Barely two minutes later, winger Xavier Coates flashed over in the corner for his third try of the game.
He scored four against the Warriors last week.
The one-way traffic continued and Melbourne finished with nine tries for the game.
The Knights went into the game with a host of key players out injured or suspended, including Dane Gagai, Mitch Barnett, Jayden Brailey, Lachlan Fitzgibbon, Hymel Hunt, Kurt Mann, Dom Young, Jirah Momoisea and Mat Croker.
Their cause was not helped when Sauaso Sue suffered a head knock in the opening exchanges and was not able to return after an HIA.
They may have another worry after Tyson Frizell was placed on report for a high tackle.
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