Newcastle Knights coach Adam O'Brien has questioned the standard which his side were held to by the referees during Sunday afternoon's defeat at the hands of the Melbourne Storm.

The Storm were ultimately able to take a 36 points to 28 victory at home in the contest, with the Knights going through periods of being well in the game, and others of struggling.

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O'Brien in particular called out the final penalty of the game, blown by referee Adam Gee, with his side narrowly losing the penalty count 7-6, but conceding three six agains compared to Melbourne's zero.

“We did go through a lot, and like the opposition will hurt you if you take a breath, but I thought we were dealt with really harshly. It was a harsh standard across the 80 minutes,” O'Brien said during his post-game press conference.

“I don't know how often you see that last penalty at the end, not very often, it just felt lopsided.

“There are times where we push the envelope and I understand that, but I felt it was a harsh standard.”

The loss leaves O'Brien's side 13th spot on the table, just two points out of the top eight at the end of Round 14 with the final game of the weekend between the Bulldogs and Eels not able to change the mark for the top eight or their own position.

Despite the loss - which slumps the Knights to a record of six and seven - O'Brien did praise his side for an improvement on their effort last weekend which saw them fail to register a try at home against the Canterbury Bulldogs, who were playing without Matt Burton who was serving as the New South Wales Blues' 18th man ahead of the opening State of Origin game.

“It was a marked improvement on last week. Even our harshest critics would agree,” he said.

“To score 28 points on Melbourne, you're doing pretty well... I'm proud of the fighting spirit."

The Knights face an uphill battle against the Penrith Panthers next weekend.