The Storm win their seventh straight game, defeating the Dragons 16-14 at WIN Stadium.
Once again the Melbourne Storm find a way to win as they defeat the luckless Dragons 16-14 on a miserable night at WIN Stadium.
So how did it all go down?
Some lazy goal line defence from the Storm saw Dragons prop Jeremy Latimore barge over for his first try of the season to put the home team ahead 6-0 after seven minutes.
The Dragons definitely started the better side as they were attacking and making Storm defenders miss tackles and immediately had the visitors on the back foot. Prop Korbin Sims was at his barnstorming best as he looked to take on the load of Origin stars Paul Vaughan and Tyson Frizell.
However, the Storm didn’t stay quiet for long.
Ten minutes later a lovely short ball from Croft to Stimson allowed the young second rower to score his second try of the season after carrying multiple Dragons defenders over the try line with him. Even with the likes of Kaufusi, Welch and Finucane on Origin duty, the Storm always find a way to replace them and Stimson did the job perfectly tonight.
The visitors hit the front after referee Ben Cummins penalised Dragons defenders for not making it back the 10 required metres. Skipper Cameron Smith converted the penalty adjacent to the posts to give his side the lead for the first time.
That’s the way the scores stayed until half time with the Storm taking a 2-point lead into the main break (8-6).
Both teams came out firing in the second half, especially Dragons hooker Cameron McInnes who got busted up earlier in the game. He made a team-high 50 tackles and his dummy half runs were threatening all night with one leading the pocket referee to once again blow his whistle, penalising the Storm for being offside.
Young five-eighth Jai Field calmly slotted the penalty goal despite facing heavy wind and rain. It was 8-8 with 20 minutes to play.
Jesse Bromwich has long been lauded as one of the best props in the world for his size, strength and ability to evade defenders and look for the offload. All of the above was on display as he made multiple Dragons defenders miss and brilliantly offloaded to Justin Olam who then passed to Asofa-Solomona who didn’t quite have the pace to get to the try line, so gave it off to Jahrome Hughes to put the Storm back in front.
This particular sequence of play is what makes the Storm so good. There is never a dead play to them and they have countless stars on the field who can make a try happen out nothing. The opposition always have to be on their toes.
Five minutes later, Dragons winger Mikaele Ravalawa bulldozed his way to the line beating four to five Storm players to score one of the tries of the season to level the scores at 14-14.
Jacob Host was penalised for impeding the run of Hughes after Billy Walters put up a bomb, which was a silly mistake from a young player in the last five minutes of a tight game.
Saviour Smith once again stepped up to the plate, nailing the penalty goal to put the Storm up two points with only a handful of minutes to go.
That’s the way the scores stayed as the Storm snatched a win on a wet and cold night in Wollongong.
Disappointing loss for the Dragons
The home side would feel this was a game they should have won with the Storm missing six players to Origin duty. Even though they themselves fielded a very young outfit, coach McGregor would be filthy they let this opportunity slip as they could have moved into the top eight with a win.
Best coach in the game celebrates his 300th NRL win
Craig ‘Bellyache’ Bellamy notched up his 300th NRL victory as coach of the Melbourne Storm tonight. Already one of the most successful coaches the game has ever seen, Bellamy continues year in year out to have his side inside the top four when the whips are cracking. Bellamy joins illustrious company in the 300 club: Wayne Bennett, Tim Sheens and Brian Smith are the other three members. At the end of this round the Storm will be three games clear on the competition ladder and are now heavy favourites to win another minor premiership.
Smith injury free for next week’s 400th
Storm captain Cameron Smith got through the 80 minutes in the wet unscathed, meaning his 400th NRL game will take place next Saturday night against the Cronulla Sharks at AAMI Park. No one in history has played 400 games, so it is a massive milestone to be celebrated and acknowledged.
Can the Walters Family make it two-from-two next Wednesday?
The talk of the day was Maroons coach Kevin Walters flying down from Brisbane to watch his son Billy make his NRL debut for the Storm at age 25. Billy held his own, making 29 tackles and gaining 253 metres with the boot. His dad Kevin will hope to make it two wins inside a week for the Walters family when his Maroons go head-to-head with the Blues this coming Wednesday in the Origin decider.
ST. GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 14
Tries: Jeremy Latimore, Mikaele Ravalawa
Goals: Jai Field 3/3
MELBOURNE STORM 16
Tries: Joe Stimson, Jahrome Hughes
Goals: Cameron Smith 4/4
ST. GEORGE-ILLAWARRA DRAGONS: 1. Matthew Dufty 2. Jonus Pearson 3. Euan Aitken 4. Timoteo Lafai 5. Mikaele Ravalawa 6. Jai Field 7. Darren Nicholls 8. Korbin Sims 9. Cameron McInnes 10. Jeremy Latimore 11. Jacob Host 12. Luciano Leilua 13. Blake Lawrie.
Interchange: 14. Josh Kerr 15. Reece Robson 16. Patrick Kaufusi 17. Mitchell Allgood.
MELBOURNE STORM: 1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Justin Olam 18. Marion Seve 5. Sandor Earl 6. Billy Walters 7. Brodie Croft 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 11. Joe Stimson 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Brandon Smith
Interchange: 14. Albert Vete 15. Tino Faasuamaleaui 16. Tui Kamikamica 17. Ryan Papenhuyzen.