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ROUND EIGHT MATCH REPORT | Melbourne Storm 27-25 Sydney Roosters

Shannon Meyer reviews the game of the season so far as the Storm maintain their incredible record at Suncorp Stadium. Here’s how the game went.

MATCH TIMELINE

Minute Scoring Play Score
10th Try Kyle Flanagan (Roosters) Roosters 4-0
12th Goal Kyle Flanagan (Roosters) Roosters 6-0
13th Try Josh Addo-Carr (Storm) Roosters 6-4
14th Goal Cameron Smith (Storm) Draw 6-6
37th Try Josh Morris (Roosters) Roosters 10-6
38th Goal Kyle Flanagan (Roosters) Roosters 12-6
41st Try Jahrome Hughes (Storm) Roosters 12-10
42nd Goal Cameron Smith (Storm) Draw 12-12
54th Try Brett Morris (Roosters) Roosters 16-12
56th Goal Kyle Flanagan (Roosters) Roosters 18-12
68th Try Josh Morris (Roosters) Roosters 22-12
71st Try Jahrome Hughes (Storm) Roosters 22-16
72nd Goal Cameron Smith (Storm) Roosters 22-18
73rd Try Paul Momirovski (Storm) Draw 22-22
74th Goal Cameron Smith (Storm) Storm 24-22
78th Penalty Goal Kyle Flanagan (Roosters) Draw 24-24
79th Field Goal Luke Keary (Roosters) Roosters 25-24
80th Field Goal Ryan Papenhuyzen (Storm) Draw 25-25
84th Penalty Goal Cameron Smith Storm) Storm 27-25

MATCH SUMMARY

1st Half

The first big moment of the match was before kick off when the Storm unveiled that Cameron Smith would start from five eighth at the expense of Ryley Jacks, with Brandon Smith starting at hooker. The Storm were going for real experience at five eighth to cover the loss of Cameron Munster. The Roosters too were without one of their stars for this season in Victor Radley.

It was a start with plenty of intensity from Melbourne, typified when Justin Olam delivered a real traditional PNG hurt ticket on Nat Butcher in the opening minutes, which left him stinging a little. The Storm looked fired up and on their game, playing each set with purpose, even if the fifth tackle options didn’t quite keep up the momentum.

But it didn’t take too long for the Roosters to get into some attacking areas and they threatened Melbourne’s line after weathering the early storm (pun intended), and the game became end-to-end stuff, with some big hits in between, and some fine offloads from the Roosters.

In Melbourne’s haste to get back on top they spun the ball out wide early in the set, a Ryan Papenhuyzen to Olam pass was put down by the PNG International in the 10th minute, and the loose ball was swooped on by Brett Morris who after a small run towards the line managed to get an offload away, despite the attention of two Storm defenders, to a supporting Kyle Flanagan who scored under the posts for the match’s first try.

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It wasn’t long before the Storm returned the favour, and similar to the Roosters try it came on the back of a loose ball. This time a pass from Flanagan to Joseph Manu on the same side of the field was left behind, and for the Storm the best possible person was on hand to swoop: Josh Addo-Carr. With only forwards giving chase, it was an easy-ish 50 metre sprint under the posts to notch the Storm’s first try.

The game continued at a pace for which the big interstate games at the same ground are famed, with both sides not quite being able to take advantage of the occasional error from the opposition.

This was highlighted in the 28th minute when the Storm were gifted a penalty 10 metres out, but they refused the easy two points and went for a try, which ultimately ended up over the sideline in attack. And other subsequent attacks fell short while the Storm had the upper hand slightly.

They paid for the lack of finishing; Nelson Asofa-Solomona dropped the ball that wasn’t intended for him as he was loafing in attack, and the Roosters had extended their lead within two sets. It helped that the second set came about after a set restart, as did the perfect cross-field kick from Luke Keary to a waiting Daniel Tupou, who provided the ball to Josh Morris for the Rooster to score in the corner, continuing the Morris family’s 100% involvement in the Roosters’ tries.

The conversion made the score 12-6 to the Roosters in a half that was highly entertaining, and bruising.

2nd Half

The second half couldn’t have started much better. A standard Cordner offload towards danger man James Tedesco was intercepted by an unlikely source in Tom Eisenhuth, who quickly found a flying Jahrome Hughes and the Storm halfback raced over under the posts. The game was deadlocked once more, but one felt like there was plenty more coming.

The Roosters struggled to keep a hold of the ball in the second half, failing to complete four of their first five sets. But their defence held on admirably under much Melbourne pressure, whose attacking options lacked that final bit of quality. The Storm lost Felise Kaufusi through injury at this stage.

Melbourne paid for not taking advantage not long after when Brett Morris scored in the corner in the 54th minute after some great lead up work the play before with Keary, Cordner,  Tedesco and brother Josh tearing up the left side. This then led to quick hands to the right, with Angus Crichton throwing the final pass to Brett Morris who knew what to do from his previous 159 career tries.

Melbourne were on the attack and on the Roosters’ line around the halfway point of the second half, first taking advantage of a Cordner lost ball, and then another error minutes later from Joseph Manu. Despite repeat sets from various penalties, the best they came up with was when Christian Welch nearly crashed over under the posts, with a try-saving tackle from Angus Crichton. But too many times the last tackle option fizzed out, and it also doesn’t help when you keep kicking it to one of the tallest men on the field in Daniel Tupou.

Not for the first time, Melbourne were punished for not taking advantage, and the Morris brothers were involved yet again. A big run from Brett Morris set the tone and he charged his way to the halfway line, and then Luke Keary took advantage of that momentum down the Roosters’ left side and he charged towards the line, and found Josh Morris waiting in support, who made a try that looked quite difficult in real time look so easy, as is the modern way in rugby league.

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A peculiar penalty against the Roosters led to a Storm try not long after as the Roosters were penalised for interference from a short Melbourne kick off. The Storm closed the gap through the lively Jahrome Hughes scoring from 10 metres out after taking a swift run at the line after what looked like it was going to be a standard move to the right. The conversion made it 22-18 with just under 10 minutes to come.

Melbourne scored straight away from the kick restart set, as they charged their way to the other end of the field through determined running. Then Tupou dropped his first bomb for the night at the worst possible time from Ryley Jacks, and the man of the moment Hughes was on on hand for the spilled ball, and he quickly found Paul Momirovski to the right who did very well to break through the Roosters’ cover defense to score. Just for added drama, the Cameron Smith conversion from wide out hit the post and went in for the Storm’s first lead of the match, with six minutes to go.

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A brain fade from Vunivalu was punished with three minutes to go, as a nothing bomb that wasn’t really played at by either side lazily bounced in the air, and as James Tedesco attempted to pluck the ball from the air Vunivalu tackled him mid-air, leading to a penalty 30 metres out on the left side. Under great pressure Kyle Flanagan nailed the penalty, and it was 24-24.

The Roosters could now taste victory, as they charged up the field from kickoff, and a few tackles later had themselves in position for a field goal attempt. And it was Luke Keary who took the attempt from 30 metres out under massive pressure, and nailed it to snatch the lead back from the Storm with less than a minute to play.

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But this sensational game wasn’t done yet. Another short kick off from the Storm resulted in a Roosters dropped ball, and there was just 30 seconds left. After a frantic few plays, the Storm were looking for a hero, and found one in Ryan Papenhuyzen, who slotted a field goal from slightly further and slightly wider than Keary’s effort. With time done, it was 25-25, and now there was a potential 10 more minutes of this magical battle.

End-to-end stuff from both sides started the first part of Golden Point, and there wasn’t much in it until Boyd Cordner made a mistake playing the ball in attack 40 metres from their own line, as the Roosters captain was stunned after a knock in the tackle he was getting up from. And indeed they were punished just a few plays later as Jake Friend was too slow to get up from a tackle, and the Storm was gifted a penalty in front 10 metres out.

Cameron Smith calmly slotted the penalty as you’d expect, to much celebration for the Melbourne side, but what a game this was. The Storm came back when it looked like the Roosters had them boxed and buried with less than 10 minutes to go, and with one minute to go after Keary’s pressure field goal.

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GAME HIGHLIGHT

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Everything.

It took the NRL a little while (including pre-COVID break), but this Thursday night clash was a top shelf clash in waiting, with plenty to offer fans and neutrals alike. Ironically the clash was coming from Suncorp Stadium, the home of the previous Thursday night incumbents. And it it did not disappoint.

Whilst there are always commercial considerations, it also doesn’t make sense to start the week off with sides that provide low entertainment, or to start the week with the same side because of one market. The Storm-Roosters game showed that league should back itself with the best product available to start each round, and get fans and viewers in the mood for the rest of the round.

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The Morris brothers continue to shine in 2020, despite being what you would normally think would be a twilight of a career. The move to the Roosters for both looked a little like one last hurrah before retirement, being unwanted at other clubs, but they showed tonight just how valuable they are to any club. It’s not only their dependable try scoring feats, with several hundred between them, but their legendary defence remains as solid as ever, and the general runs are always with force that belies their years. It’s a good rugby league story, for some good rugby league people.

SQUADS

Melbourne Storm

1. Ryan Papenhuyzen 2. Suliasi Vunivalu 3. Justin Olam 4. Paul Momirovski 5. Josh Addo-Carr  9. Cameron Smith 7. Jahrome Hughes 8. Jesse Bromwich 14. Brandon Smith 10. Christian Welch 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. Kenneath Bromwich 13. Dale Finucane. Interchange: 6. Ryley Jacks 15. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 16. Tom Eisenhuth 17. Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

Sydney Roosters

1. James Tedesco 2. Daniel Tupou 3. Josh Morris 4. Joseph Manu 5. Brett Morris 6. Luke Keary 7. Kyle Flanagan 8. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 9. Jake Friend 10. Siosiua Taukeiaho 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Angus Crichton 13. Nat Butcher. Interchange: 14. Poasa Faamausili 15. Sitili Tupouniua 16. Mitchell Aubusson 17. Lindsay Collins.

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