|6th||Goal Cameron Smith (Storm)||Melbourne 2-0|
|12th||Goal Shaun Johnson (Sharks)||Draw 2-2|
|21st||Goal Shaun Johnson (Sharks)||Sharks 4-2|
|47th||Goal Cameron Smith (Storm)||Draw 4-4|
|59th||Try Billy Magoulias (Sharks)||Sharks 8-4|
|60th||Goal Shaun Johnson (Sharks)||Sharks 10-4|
|70th||Try Tui Kamikamica (Storm)||Sharks 10-8|
|71st||Goal Cameron Smith (Storm)||Draw 10-10|
|76th||Goal Cameron Smith (Storm)||Storm 12-10|
There were no tries in the first half as the two teams attempted to score as many points as the non-playing people at the ground.
Cronulla were really in the Melbourne player’s faces early, as the Storm went tryless in the first half for the second week in a row, and made more errors than you’d expect from a Storm side. But there were plenty of penalties.
The first penalty goal for the Storm was from multiple penalties; the gift from right in front accepted by Cameron Smith. Cronulla’s first two points came after they started looking a little lively in attack and were rewarded with a penalty shot in good territory. The next came after the Sharks came close to crossing the line on two occasions, the second of which saw a fifth tackle penalty awarded and converted.
The Sharks had enough ball and opportunity to open the try scoring late in the first half, but some poor final passes blew some great opportunities.
The Sharks held the upper hand 4-2 going into the second half, and one watching the game was left to wonder whether the points would flow a little more freely in the second half.
Initially the answer was no, as Cameron Smith slotted the game’s fourth penalty goal in the 47th minute, with the game deadlocked again at 4-4.
But at long last, and with nearly three quarters of the game to go, Billy Magoulias scored the opening try. It came after a fine run from fullback Will Kennedy that got the Sharks within metres of the line, and a deft grubber from dummy half Blayke Brailey on the fifth tackle found empty space and only Magoulias anywhere near the ball.
The game opened up a bit more from there, and Melbourne saw a promising left side play almost end in their first four pointer, but a resulting penalty from a high shot on a try-chasing Justin Olam (that was the subject of an unsuccessful Captain’s Challenge) allowed Melbourne ball and possession. They turned it into a try in the 72nd minute as Tui Kamikamica crashed over from seven metres.
Magoulias, the man with the Midas touch (as described on the coverage), was involved in a key moment late in the second half, as his error in attack in the centre of the field, when the Sharks attack was looking promising, was punished two plays later when the Sharks gave away a penalty within kicking range for Smith. He duly obliged as the Storm took the lead by two points with five minutes to play. Smith has scored almost half of Melbourne’s points in 2020 (14 of 30).
Another Sharks error with two minutes to play allowed the Storm to see off the game, which included a peculiar decision by the Sharks to kick with thirty seconds to go, with no one really chasing and rugby league’s fastest man covering the kick.
It leaves the Storm unbeaten after two weeks, only conceding two tries in two games (though they haven’t scored a try before the 60th minute so far this season). The Sharks are winless (and have won just two of their past 10 matches at Kogarah), but have pushed two top four sides from 2019 all the way.
The second half was certainly more enjoyable than the first, which was an arm wrestle. The first try seemed to wake both sides up into the prospect of more try scoring, and the ball went from end-to-end a bit more.
In a game that wasn’t overflowing with all-out attack, the fullbacks from both sides provided some highlights. The fact that both are up-and-coming number ones are getting a go in 2020 is also a good thing. Josh Dugan will find it hard to displace the youngster Will Kennedy on his first two games this season. Ryan Papenhuyzen looks like he has been playing at the back for the Storm for years.
The kick from the scrum by Melbourne for a flying Fox didn’t quite work out in the first half, but there is hope that this and other types of variety will continue to creep into the NRL, thanks mainly to the movable scrum positioning.
Wade Graham’s hit on Max King was a highlight of some of the hard hits he puts on, all of which sound so much better with Fox Sports turning up the sound effects.
1. Will Kennedy 2. Sione Katoa 3. Josh Morris 4. Jesse Ramien 5. Ronaldo Mulitalo 6. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Aaron Woods 17. Scott Sorensen 12. Wade Graham 13. Jack Williams. Interchange: 14. Connor Tracey 15. Braden Hamlin-Uele 16. Toby Rudolf 18. Billy Magoulias.
1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Marion Seve 4. Justin Olam 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Cameron Munster 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Tui Kamikamica 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane. Interchange: 14. Tino Faasuamaleaui 15. Max King 16. Nelson Asofa-Solomona 17. Tom Eisenhuth.