NRL Round 25: Storm 38, Dragons 28

St George-Illawara pushed Melbourne all the way to the end to go down by ten points at Win Stadium, Wollongong.


Storm 38
Tries: Will Warbrick 8th, 29th, 33rd; Xavier Coates 37th; Eliesa Katoa 50th, 54th; Jahrome Hughes 77th
Goals: Nick Meaney 30th, 51st, 56th, 78th, 80th

Dragons 28
Tries: Billy Burns 12th, 43rd; Tyrell Sloan 17th; Talatau Amone 24th; Mikaele Ravalawa 73rd
Goals: Ben Hunt 14th, 19th, 25th, 44th

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The first error of the game came from Mikaele Ravalawa and proved costly with Melbourne Storm gaining two consecutive sets off the back of it for Will Warbrick to eventually cross unchallenged down the right wing. Nick Meaney had wind to contend with on the tough conversion and dragged it to the left of the sticks to keep the Storm lead at just four points.

The Dragons fought back, however, and challenged the Storm line soon after eventually scoring through Billy Burns who strolled over on the last tackle off the back of a blown play with no tackle attempt in sight. Woeful Melbourne defence and effort allowed the back rower the track under the sticks from out wide and gift Ben Hunt with an easy conversion to put his side in the lead 6-4.

St George continued to look the better of the two sides and on the ensuing set Talatau Amone forced a goal line drop out with a well-judged grubber into the in goal area. They continued to find space down the middle with Harry Grant off for a HIA after a poke in the eye, and gained a pair of set restart calls on the Strom line before Sloan sliced through on a short ball from Hunt to score under the posts. Hunt made no mistake again with the conversion and the Dragons led the Storm 12-4.

The Dragons broke again on the ensuing set and found themselves attacking the Storm line once again with a 71 metre gain on the set, eventually trapping Melbourne a metre from their line. Off the back of which, and in the following sets, Melbourne struggled to make more than 30 metres with the ball and the Dragons continued to win the field position battle and get a number of attacking opportunities.

The Dragons – extremely clinical – crossed again through Amone who sniped over from close range to push the tally out to 16 before Hunt converted to take the score out to 18-4. Soon after, the Dragons allowed Melbourne an easy exit with a penalty and were duly punished by the visitors with Warbrick grabbing his second of the game, of which Nick Meaney converted to cut the margin to eight points.

Warbrick continued to shine for Melbourne and scored a classy and powerful finish down the right edge to grab a hat-trick in the first half, closing the Dragons’ lead to four points after Nick Meaney unsurprisingly missed from the touchline. Just before half time, Xavier Coates busted the middle defence of the Dragons in midfield and ran 50 metres to score in the right-hand corner and tie the game up to give Meaney another touchline conversion to go ahead. He missed by the barest of margins and the scores stayed tied at 18 apiece.

The Dragons opened up the better of the two sides and scored through Burns early on with Melbourne incapable of any meaningful defence. Hunt converted to extend the lead to six before Eliesa Katoa announced himself in the game with a pair of tries in the space of four minutes to take the lead for his side with Meaney converting both.

The Dragons weren’t out of it, however, and continued to press the Melbourne line after the Storm were incapable of using any advantages given to them. Ravalawa went very close down the right edge only to be ruled to have stepped in touch, before Melbourne went down the other end and Hunt invited pressure on the Dragons line with a rare error. Melbourne produced some stale attack though and allowed the Dragons a reprieve.

They wouldn’t last long, and the lacklustre Melbourne defence returned to allow Ravalawa to cross down the right edge and give ]Hunt a chance to level the scores with a tough conversion. The Dragons’ captain couldn’t deliver though, and the Dragons began to chase the game with less than five minutes left. They made a long-range break and looked close to having a change to get ahead only for Burns to make an error in support. They would get another chance to score late on though, but Hunt knocked on and gifted a try to Jahrome Hughes.

A short kick off gave the Dragons another opportunity to ignite a comeback but a knock on gifted the ball back to the Storm, who tried to increase their points difference with a final attacking set and did so with a penalty in front of the sticks to take the final score to 38-28 in favour of the visitors.


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3 – Will Warbrick (Storm)
2 – Eliesa Katoa (Storm)
1 – Jahrome Hughes (Storm)

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