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2022 NRL Round 6, Storm 34 Sharks 18 – Report

Rhys Sullivan reviews a blockbuster showdown between second and third in this young season.

MATCHDAY RESULTS

SCOREBOARD

Melbourne Storm 34
Tries: Justin Olam (2) 21, 42, Cameron Munster 33, Ryan Papenhuyzen 51, Harry Grant 65
Goals: Ryan Papenhuyzen 7/7 (22, 34, 43, 52, 66, 69, 72)

Cronulla Sharks 18
Tries: Ronaldo Mulitalo (2) 49, 62, Siosifa Talakai 29
Goals: Nicho Hynes 3/5 (10, 30, 63)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

Both sides made changes to their lineups named on Tuesday, with Melbourne losing the Bromwich brothers due to Covid-19 protocol and the Sharks being without Briton Nikora and Sione Katoa as well. Cronulla’s woes were compounded when Dale Finucane was forced off for an HIA after just 7 minutes.

Despite that, it was the Sharks who struck first with Nicho Hynes slotting over 2 points after a late hit from Felise Kaufusi. Melbourne’s ensuing kick off went out on the full, giving Cronulla a full set inside the Storm’s 30, but they couldn’t capitalise.

Cronulla began to beat Melbourne at their own game- playing field position and forcing the Storm to play expansive footy. But a penalty conceded by Cam McInnes gave the Storm a sniff, and they capitalised almost immediately with Justin Olam scoring in the corner from a beautiful Cam Munster pass.

The game rapidly began to break open, with more mistakes from both sides leading to some faster footy. And it was that type of footy that saw the Sharks go 100 metres vertically and 54 metres horizontally to send Siosifa Talakai over in the corner.

But in a game of pace, the Storm love to be the ones to take control. A penalty followed by a set restart put Melbourne squarely on the attack, and Munster put himself away with a beautiful 40-metre solo effort. It was just another one of those Magical Munster moments which make people think “surely the Storm can’t let this guy go”.

Cronulla put one more effort in before halftime, and almost scored through a Ronaldo Mulitalo linebreak. when the winger’s kick went dead, they were given a penalty for a late hit by Ryan Papenhuyzen. Hynes tried to put another 2 points on the board, but his attempt hit the right upright and was promptly taken dead by Melbourne to end the half.

HALF-TIME: Melbourne Storm 12 Cronulla Sharks 8

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2nd Half

The second half began with Munster providing another key moment, bouncing the kick-off over the sideline to give Melbourne a set 10 metres out from the Sharks line. Off the ensuing scrum, Munster played a lovely short ball to Olam for his second of the night.

But Cronulla definitely was not out of the game, and a set restart gave them a chance off their line. Matt Moylan linked up with Talakai who sent Mulitalo over in the corner for what was initially called a knock-on but was overturned after just one replay. Hynes’ conversion hit the right upright again, leaving the gap at six points.

But the Storm had made a habit all game of striking back after Cronulla points, and that is exactly what happened when the ball found its way into Munster’s hands right again. The dynamic five-eighth broke the line and threw an inside ball to Papenhuyzen, with the fullback strolling over under the post.

The game began to bog down again- with the highlight of the phase being a Hynes kick hitting the wire of Fox League’s SpiderCam for a neutral infringement. But the game broke open when the Sharks received a penalty, and off the restart, Talakai linked up with Mulitalo again for the Queenslander- I mean, for the Kiwi’s second try of the night.

Unfortunately for the Sharks, Jack Williams dropped the ball in the ruck for their first error of the night- coming off the back of points and 30 metres out from their own line. And as they had all night, Melbourne crossed with immediate effect- this time through Harry Grant out of dummy half. Papenhuyzen hit his 5th conversion of the night, then added 2 penalty goals in quick succession to extend the lead to 16 points.

But Melbourne needed to twist the dagger in more- it’s less about revenge for the 2016 Grand Final at this point and more about it being the Melbourne way. And it seemed for a second that Olam would pick up a hat trick as he barged over under the posts, but the ball slipped from the centre’s grasp over the try line.

FULL-TIME: Melbourne Storm 34 Cronulla Sharks 18

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 pts – Cameron Munster (Melbourne Storm), 2 pts – Siosifa Talakai (Cronulla Sharks), 1 pt – Justin Olam (Melbourne Strom)

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