The Melbourne Storm have cemented a spot in the 2014 NRL Finals Series with a 22-12 victory over the Brisbane Broncos at AAMI Park in front of 20,032. Brisbane are now relying on other results to tip them into the mix for the Premiership.
The Broncos started strongly as they challenged the Storm's defence. However, it was a swing in possession that saw the Storm strike up a 12-0 lead mid-way through the first half.
New Zealand Warriors bound, Ryan Hoffman was a stand out performer for the Storm and his efforts rewarded early. Hoffman surged into a yawning gap via a Cooper Cronk bullet ball for first points. This followed up by Cronk as his solo kick-chase presented Melbourne's second four-pointer.
Ben Hunt was determined to chase down the lead in the latter part of the opening half as he reached over the white line to claim Brisbane's first points after 25 minutes. Jack Reed would come off with a dislocated shoulder at half time, but it was not before he finished off a Broncos left side raid. Brisbane closed the gap to 12-10 at the break.
Corey Parker took the penalty goal on offer at the 50th minute to lock the score at 12-all.
They call him ‘Mahe In Melbourne' as the Victorian born, Mahe Fonua shone in the second half, bagging a double in an 8 minute period. His first came in the 66th minute as he backed his way over the Broncos defence courtesy of a Cronk chip kick. Fonua's second try was created as he took an intercept pass from Ben Hunt and bolted 70 metres to score untouched.
The Storm proved too good in the end as their polish and execution overran the visiting Broncos. Brisbane now wait other results to determine if they can scrap into the top 8.
Melbourne Storm 22 Brisbane Broncos 12
Venue: AAMI Park
Halftime Score: Melbourne Storm 12 Brisbane Broncos 10
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Ryan Hoffman
2 points - Cooper Cronk
1 point - Mahe Fonua
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
LATE MAIL: Melbourne Storm - Jordan McLean starts in place of Bryan Norrie who moves back to the bench. Junior Moors replaces Dayne Weston on the interchange with Justin O'Neill dropping out of the extended squad.
LATE MAIL: Brisbane Broncos - Corey Parker moves to lock in with Sam Thaiday out suspended. Ben Hannant is promoted to the starting side in the forwards and Todd Lowrie fills the final interchange spot.
Welcome to LeagueUnlimited.com's LIVE coverage from AAMI Park in Melbourne as the Storm host the Brisbane Broncos in a must win clash for both teams. A spot in the finals is on the line with the winner booking a place in the qualifying finals next week, while the loser is finished for season 2014. This game also marks possibly the last game for Anthony Griffin as Broncos' Head Coach as he will be replaced by Wayne Bennett in 2015.
1: We are UNDERWAY at AAMI Park as the Melbourne Storm kick off to give the Broncos first use.
1: UNFORCED ERROR MELBOURNE STORM
Mahe Fonua makes an unforced error.
Mahe Fonua fumbles the ball in the ruck as he attempted a quick play of the ball. Scrum for the Broncos early up and attack 20 metres out
3: ZERO TACKLE for the Broncos 5 metres out, knock on from the kick
3: First penalty of the game goes to the Broncos. Too long in the ruck which gives the Broncos a quick tap 10 metres out
4: UNFORCED ERROR BRISBANE BRONCOS
Ben Barba makes an unforced error.
Ben Barba juggles a floating pass as the Broncos spread across to the open left, Storm with possession as a result deep in their own half
6: Billy Slater is trapped in goal. Line drop out coming up for Brisbane to keep the pressure on the Storm defence. Good opening sets from Brisbane
8: FORWARD PASS denies Lachlan Maranta. Brisbane created the overlap but pushed too much. Scrum will pack for the Storm 10 metres off their own line.
11: Penalty to the Storm, their first of the night. Matt Gillett too long in the ruck. Storm attack 30 metres out from the Broncos try line from the touch finding kick.
15: UNFORCED ERROR BRISBANE BRONCOS
Justin Hodges makes an unforced error.
Justin Hodges darts from the blind side and he can't hold onto possession as he looked to take an offload from Daley Copley. Scrum packs for the Storm 20 metres out from their own try line.
17: Penalty to the Storm following the Copley mistake. Strip the call which gives the Storm a full set 10 metres out from the Broncos try line.
18: TRY MELBOURNE STORM
Scored by Cooper Cronk. Kick to come.
Cronk Cooper has cleaned up his own little grubber kick as Justin Hodges fumbles the catch in goal and the Storm strike with a beautiful try
26: Penalty to the Broncos, too much work in the ruck. Hunt finds touch, Brisbane attack 35m out from the Melbourne try line
27: Video referee has overturned the live decision. Knock on Chambers, scrum Broncos 10 metres out
29: INJURY UPDATE: Corey Parker is OFF for Broncos with possible concussion. Cam Smith OFF with a possible ankle injury
33: VIDEO REFEREE for the Broncos, we have a TRY for Andrew McCullough. Looked okay!
34: TRY BRISBANE BRONCOS
Scored by Jack Reed. Kick to come.
Jack Reed has slid over in the eastern corner as the Broncos spread and tap on through Justin Hodges. Brilliant play from Hodges to give the Broncos their second try
35: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION BRISBANE BRONCOS
Conversion attempt by Corey Parker unsuccessful.
Corey Parker comes straight back on the field and he will take the conversion attempt despite the questions from Cooper Cronk to the referee. However, the attempt is missed.
37: Penalty to the Storm, too long in the ruck and Cooper Cronk finds touch and the Storm have possession just short of half way
40: HALF TIME at AAMI Park sees a close contest between the Storm and the Broncos, 12-10 at the break. Jack Reed was fallen on Billy Slater as the siren sounds and it doesn't look good for him as he walks into the sheds with his arms tucked into the jersey
43: Cameron Smith is back on for the Storm as Melbourne get a penalty, they attack 40 metres out
44: NO TRY! Will Chambers is denied for a knock on as Waqa knocked the Cronk kick back on last tackle. Change over for the Broncos deep in their own half
44: UNFORCED ERROR BRISBANE BRONCOS
Martin Kennedy makes an unforced error.
Martin Kennedy fumbles the ball as he overran the play and the Storm attack on zero tackle 30 metres out from the Brisbane try line.
49: Penalty to the Broncos, 10 metres offside the call and Justin Hodges points to the posts for the two points
51: Ben Hunt rockets the kick out on the full. Storm take possession on half way as a result.
54: Justin Hodges takes the swirling bomb in goal to earn the 20m tap for Brisbane
59: FORWARD PASS halts the Broncos attack. Storm scrum packs as the pass from Justin Hodges out of acting half was ruled forward.
60: Ben Barba is forced over the sideline after taking an intercept. Luck with the Storm as they cleaned up their mistake and have another shot at the try line.
62: Tohu Harris has come off with possible concussion after heavy contact, continue continues with the Broncos deep in their half
63: Change over the call. Brisbane unable to crack the line off a Hunt kick as the play comes in the hands of Melbourne now.
66: VIDEO REFEREE for the Storm, Mahe Fonua has a TRY! Looking at grounding and onside
66: TRY MELBOURNE STORM
Scored by Mahe Fonua. Kick to come.
Mahe Fonua has GREEN LIGHTS as he jumped up high to back his way over the try line after taking the Cooper Cronk cross field kick. Brilliant attack from the Storm
67: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION MELBOURNE STORM
Conversion attempt by Will Chambers unsuccessful.
Will Chambers given the kicking duties over Cam Smith and he can't slot the conversion from out wide on the eastern side
68: Justin Hodges has been cautions under the high balls all night, but this time is able to take possession off the boot of Cronk. Brisbane with possession just shy of half
70: Incredible work from Justin Hodges, manages to get back into the field of play from the kick in goal. Brisbane working it out of their red zone.
71: Andrew McCullough kicked into the Storm defence but ruled not played at. Scrum Storm at the 30m line.
75: UNFORCED ERROR MELBOURNE STORM
Will Chambers makes an unforced error.
The Storm knock on the short kick off from Brisbane and the Broncos have a scrum 30 metres out from the try line.
77: Time off here as the players get friendly. It's a penalty to Brisbane
77: Penalty Brisbane again, this time offside. Broncos take quick tap 5 metres out
78: Billy Slater forces the Hunt grubber over the in goal line. Drop out for Brisbane
80: FULL TIME at AAMI Park sees the Melbourne Storm jump to 4th spot on the ladder and cement a spot in the 2014 Finals Series with a 22-12 victory over the Broncos.