Fearsome Foursome Outclass Gallant Cronulla

There may not have been a lot to play for, but that did not stop Melbourne and Cronulla slogging it out at AAMI Park. Nearly nine thousand fans turned up to see the might of Melbourne run out 24 - 4 victors over a gutsy Cronulla Southerland outfit.

For a round 24 game between the guaranteed wooden spooners in last place and another not too far ahead, this game never promised to hold much significance to the completion. But, from the get go this did not look like a bottom of the table clash, with both sides playing competitive football and defending strongly. The first and only points of the first half went to the home side, with Cameron Smith crossing the line and converting his own try.

Sharks had all the attacking play in good field position for the next ten, but failed to capitalise on it. We looked to have more points to the Storm in the twentieth minute, but the possible try was denied by video referee Chris Ward who ruled there to be an obstruction. The ensuing play for the half saw more work for the ground referees, the ball moved back and forth with both teams trying to stamp some authority on the game, but they were stopped by penalties, errors, and solid defence right into half time which came with a socreline of 6 - 0 in favour of Melbourne.

Cronulla started the first half firmly on the attack but could not convert their field position and opportunities into points. Melbourne soon had a few stabs at working the scoreboard, starting sets firmly in Cronulla territory and were able to penetrate the Sharks line with Inglis from the scrum putting Neilson in for a try in the fiftieth minute, it was converted putting Melbourne Storm two converted tries ahead.

Sharks began to look a bit wobbly in the ensuing minutes of play, as Melbourne looked to be kicking into gear, scoring again in 56th minute and again off the back of a scrum. This Time it was Cronk finding Slater who put back rower Sika Manu in to score. Smith kept a perfect strike rate with the boot to give Melbourne a firmer hold of the game at 18 - 0.

Cronulla began to chance their hand from there and it finally paid off for them in the 62nd minute where they scored what would be their only points for the match, it got a bit exciting for the sharks with Barrett going inside to Gallen who absolutely basketballed it to Covell to put him in in the corner. Covell failed to convert his own try and that was all the points Cronulla could scrimmage tonight.

There was some courage shown by Cronulla in the closing quarter but they were outclassed and outplayed by Melbourne particular their big four in one of their last matches together in the Melbourne colours. The closing minutes saw Melbourne put on the last points of the match, with Cronk putting Ryan Hinchcliffe to score, Cameron Smith did not fail with the boot and Melbourne drove home a 24 - 4 victory.

Match Details
Melbourne Storm 24 defeated Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 4
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 24 - Saturday August 21, 2010 7:30pm
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Ashley Klein and Luke Phillips
Video Referee: Chris Ward
Touch Judges: Ricky McFarlane and Adam Reid
Crowd: 8,902
Halftime: Melbourne Storm 6 Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 0

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Cameron Smith (1 Try, 4 Conversions)
2 Points - Cooper Cronk
1 Point - Billy Slater

Tries: Cameron Smith, Sika Manu, Ryan Hinchcliffe, Dane Nielsen
Conversions: Cameron Smith (4/4)

Tries: Luke Covell
Conversions: Luke Covell (0/1)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to AAMI Park for this bottom of the table Round 24 game between the Melbourne Storm and the Cronulla Sharks.

TEAM NEWS: A few changes for Melbourne with Matt Duffie and Brett Finch out, Todd Lowrie moves from the bench into the centres with Dane Neilson moving to wing, Brett Finch will be replaced by Luke Kelly in jumper 22. Also a few superficial with Jeff Lima and Ryan Hinchcliffe starting the match in place of Brett White and Ryan Hoffman who join Kevin Proctor and JEsse Bromwich starting the game on the bench.
For the Sharks Ben Pomeroy is out and will be replaced by newcomer Ricky Leutele. Josh Cordoba is also out, replaced by Adam Cuthbertson in jumper 20 and a superficial change; Taulima Tautai will start the match in place of Grant Millington. 1 min: Apologies for some technical difficulties, Melbourne have kicked off the game, giving Cronulla first use of the football.
5 min: Both sides controlling the ball well and completing their sets.
8 min: TRY
TRY to the Melbourne Storm. Cameron Smith goes in for the first points of the game. And converts his own try.
Melbourne Storm 6-0
11 min: Plenty of feeling being shown by both sides in this one, making for a great contest early.
14 min: Covell saves a penalty kick going out on the fly to put Sharks right on the attack.
17 min: Back to back line dropouts for the Sharks has them really putting pressure on this Melbourne line.
20 min: Video Referee for a possible Melbourne Try.
21 min: Video ref. rules an obstruction on Inglis as Slater used him to get on the outside of the defence to send his winger over.
23 min: Inglis is forced to kick it on the last 20m out from his own line. He doesn't strike it too well and it lands 10m Sharks side of halfway.
24 min: Penalty to Cronulla puts them right on attack. Cancel that, Tautai loses it on the first. 25 min: Sharks penalised for a grapple tackle. Storm begin their set 40m out from their own line.
26 min: A very sneaky kick by Cronk forces the Sharks to bat the ball over the dead ball line.
28 min: Slater loses it cold 10m out from the Sharks line relieving them of any pressure.
30 min: Ferguson takes a Cronk bomb and replies with a scintellating 30m run. Sharks with all the running this set.
31 min: Barrett gives away a penalty for slowing down the ruck. Storm begin their set 40m out.
32 min: Cronulla give away another penalty! This time Cuthburtson is penalised for a strip. Storm begin this set right inside Cronulla's half.
33 min: Woah! Cronk was about to score for all money before a desperate Millington tackle prevents him from grounding the ball.
33 min: Controversial call here. Gardner is forced to offload after the Storm defence lifted him and threatened to put him in the in-goal area. Subsequently Covell is tackled in-goal
34 min: Melbourne nearly score off a cross field kick but the video ref rules a knock on against Storm flyer Justin O'Neil.
36 min: Cronulla decide to run it on the last and are unlucky not to receive six again after a Storm player deflects a pass. Refs. rule it wasn't played at.
38 min: Storm deep on attack after a penalty and a failed intercept attempt by Gallen.
40 min: Cronulla somehow repel the Storm out-wide before they claim a Storm grubber. They then counter-attack and force the Storm to play it only metres out from their own try line. That play will take us into half-time. 40 min: And that is the half.
40 min: Covell gets us underway.
42 min: White is down with a knee injury.
42 min: Sharks receive a penalty and are only metres out from the Storm line.
43 min: Slater saves a certain Sharks 4 pointer batting a promising Sharks grubber dead before Covell could arrive. Sharks start their set 30m out from the Storm line.
45 min: Storm penalised for a hand in the football. Can the Sharks make the most of this opportunity? No! A Collis tap on pass goes forward AND over the side line. Tough break for Cronulla who looked directionless.
48 min: Harsh penalty on the 5th against Cronulla here. Tupou was deemmed to of purposely dislodged the ball with his knee but it appeared as if Manu just lost it. Storm are pressing the Sharks line here...until Hoffman knocks it on. Wait now Gardner has knocked it on while trying to play the football, Storm with the ball again 10m out from the Sharks line.
51 min: TRY
Off the scrum the Storm go to Inglis who attracts the Sharks defender before getting an offload off to Nielsen who runs it over the line to extend Melbourne's lead.
Melbourne Storm 12-0
52 min: Storm work it up to the halfway line before Cronk puts up a wobbly bomb that Gardner then takes on the bounce. Cronulla's ball 10m out from their line.
53 min: Sharks return the favour working it up to the halfway line before finding Slater only 10m out. However Slater tears through the Sharks defence with Leutele's desperate tackle proving the saviour for the Sharks. Melbourne appear to have the Sharks in 6's and 7's before O'Neil fails to take a Inglis pass 20m or so away from the Shark's line.
57 min: TRY
Sharks lose it again 40m out from their line. Off the scrum, Cronk finds Slater who puts a rampaging Sika Manu through a gap and big Sika runs 30m or so to score
Melbourne Storm 18-0
60 min: We're going up to the video ref here for Cronulla. Luke Kelly loses it while attempting to pass the ball and Blake Ferguson has toed it forward and regathered to score. Video ref. is looking if Ferguson has got a hand on it...
60 min: Which he has. Sharks with the loose head and feed because of the Kelly knock on.
63 min: TRY
Covell has scored in the corner here for Cronulla! Barrett goes inside to Gallen who gets a basketball pass to Covell who burrows his way over.
Melbourne Storm 18-4
64 min: Collis streaks down the touch line before an Inglis tackle stops him in his tracks. Unfortunately for the Sharks, Smith's cross-field kick puts no pressure on Nielsen who takes it comfortable in his own in-goal.
67 min: An exciting set by Melbourne ends with Smith kicking the ball over the sideline, 10m out from the Sharks line.
68 min: Millington loses the ball in a two man lifting tackle. Storm ball 30m out from the Sharks line.
69 min: Covell loses the ball attempting to take the Cross field kick by Cooper Cronk. He then kicks it straight to Cooper who links up with Hinchcliffe who then loses it. Refs rule the Storm didn't receive their advantage and rule a Sharks line drop out.
70 min: But the Sharks take an intercept on their line to hold on.
72 min: An exciting passage of play here from the Storm! Cooper throws a slick inside ball to Slater who slices through before putting in a kick to his outside man. However Gardner beats him to the ball forcing another goal line drop out against Cronulla.
75 min: TRY
Cronk runs it to the line before finding Kite on the fringe who offloads it back to Cronk who finds Hinchcliffe on the outside who powers his way over to score.
Melbourne Storm 24-4
75 min: Covell kicks it out on the full off the kick off. Melbourne begin their set 30m out from the Shark's line.
76 min: A daring Cronk grubber doesn't pay off as Gardner allows the ball to go over the sideline. Sharks scrum 10m out from their own line.
76 min: A daring Cronk grubber doesn't pay off as Gardner allows the ball to go over the sideline. Sharks scrum 10m out from their own line.
77 min: Sharks penalty for hand on the ball.
78 min: Inglis resets the Sharks set of six after trying to come up with a daring intercept. Scrum Cronulla 40m out from the Storm line.
79 min: A loose pass by Tim Smith is dived on by Kite. That's all she wrote for Cronulla.
80 min: A long range field goal attempt by Cronk doesn't go anywhere near the sticks as the Sharks end up with the ball with 20 seconds remaining.
80 min: However it doesn't make a difference as Nielsen bats the ball over the side line. It's all over here in Melbourne!

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