Melbourne Storm this afternoon showed why they are not only the reigning NRL Premiers and the World Club champions, but also the favourites to win the 2010 NRL competition as they held the St George Illawarra Dragons to a solitary unconverted try, defeating them 17-4 in front of 25,480 screaming supporters at Etihad Stadium under a closed roof this afternoon.
The much anticipated match between the two previously undefeated sides didn't disappoint as both sides in the first half found it very difficult to pierce some very resilient and stubborn defence shown by their respective opposition. Not surprisingly, only 2 penalty goals were achieved by the home side to see them 4-0 up after 40 minutes.
The feeling of the proverbial floodgates opening seemed to be real when after 10 minutes in the second half, the Storm added 2 unconverted tries to their tally.
However the Dragons 'never say die' attitude saw them claw their way back into the match as their solid defence shut out the home side, allowing the creativity of their backs come into play, resulting in their only points of the match.
A sublime try to the Melbourne fullback Slater, after an outstanding inside pass by Cronk, seemingly put the match out of the reach of the visiting Dragons, only to have the nail in the proverbial coffin, placed by a Smith field goal with 10 minutes left in the match.
A great game by two quality sides in front of a great crowd on this Easter Friday.
Melbourne Storm 17 defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 4
Halftime: Melbourne Storm 4 St George Illawarra Dragons 0
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
MELBOURNE STORM (17)
Tries: Billy Slater, Anthony Quinn, Dane Nielsen
Field Goals: Cameron Smith (1/1)
Conversions: Cameron Smith (0/3)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (2/2)
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (4)
Tries: Jason Nightingale
Conversions: Jamie Soward (0/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
First game at home for the Melbourne Storm this season. Both them and the Dragons are undefeated in 2010, this will change for one team today.
Fine conditions in Melbourne, with a great crowd in for this match on Easter Friday. The roof closed for the game.
1 min: Storm kick off in this much anticipated match.
2 min: Solid start by the two sides. The crowd right in this match.
4 min: First break by Finch only to be counter acted by Soward. The Dragons getting their first run, only to have the ball out over the sideline.
6 min: First high kick by the Storm on attack, safely snaffled by Boyd.
7 min: Melbourne awarded the first penalty of the match, allowing an attack to progress from 30 metres out. An unforced error halts the attack.
8 min: The Dragons on attack after their first penalty. Storm defence strong at this stage.
11 min: Line Dropout - Dragons. Slater expecting the ball to go dead in goal, struggles to get into play.
13 min: Fifth tackle option has a high kick out to Nightingale's wing. Quinn gets to the ball first but scrum feed goes the Storm way, deemed a knock on by Dragons.
16 min: A penalty awarded for a high shot on Slater by Weyman, with the Storm players coming in to defend their fullback.
17 min: 5th tackle penalty awarded to the Storm.
18 min: PENALTY GOAL
Easy kick for Smith right in front, he reaches the milestone of 400 goals with that kick.
Melbourne Storm 2-0
20 min: The Storm making metres on attack with a break by Englis, only to have a faulty play of the ball kill the momentum.
22 min: A nice kick thru by Soward for Nightingale almost comes to fruition, Slater pushed over the sideline, scrum to the Dragons just out from their line. A mistake on the first tackle for the Dragons.
26 min: The Dragons slowly but surely building their game up. Better fifth tackle options needed to counteract the swarming defence of the home side.
29 min: The Storm making ground after a penalty starts their attack. Fifth tackle kick hits the post with Slater flying thru. Boyd just manages to find the ball in time.
32 min: Relieving penalty for the Dragons 30 metres out from the Storm line as the Melbourne defence had stepped up a notch. Tackle 1 sees the teams rush at each other as Quinn and Scott exchanged words. Storm ball.
35 min: 5 errors each in this evenly matched tussle.
36 min: Hornby misses nailing a 40/20 by millimetres.
38 min: The Storm get a penalty setting play up 40 metres out from the Dragons line. And then another allowing a kick at goal before the break.
39 min: PENALTY GOAL
The Dragons are cautioned by the ref as Smith kicks for goal 32 metres out from the goal line.
Melbourne Storm 4-0
40 min: Hornby stalls the kick off allowing the siren to sound and the half to end.
40 min: Halftime in this intriguing match as the respect shown by both sides evident in their general play in the first 40 minutes.
41 min: Once again the Dragons wait on the field for the home side to appear.
41 min: Hornby gets the second half underway. No serious injuries reported by either side at the break.
42 min: Early mistake by the Storm and the Dragons set up for their first attack of the half. Lost forward is the call for Saffy close to the line, and the Storm fans take a deep breath.
44 min: Dropped ball by Morris and the Storm get the chance 40 metres out from their line.
45 min: TRY
The first play from the scrum sees Slater create a gap for the young Storm centre to scoot thru easily and score.
Melbourne Storm 8-0
48 min: Penalties are killing any chance the Dragons have of stopping the go forward by the Storm.
49 min: TRY
Back to back sets for the home side has the Dragons defence scrambling with determination, however Quinn sneaks over right by the corner flag.
Melbourne Storm 12-0
53 min: Solid and committed defence by the Dragons forces an error by Finch, and the Dragons are after some points.
55 min: Penalty close to the line for the Dragons.
56 min: TRY
Fast play and a superb cut out pass by Boyd to his winger sees the Dragons get their first points of the match, and much needed ones.
Melbourne Storm 12-4
59 min: The Dragons with a new lease of life in the game, causing all sorts of strife for the Storm defence. Nightingale, with half the Storm side on his back, held up in goal on the 3rd tackle.
61 min: Crowd figure - an impressive 25,480 for the Storm's first home game in 2010.
63 min: Hornby once again tries for a 40/20 and nails it this time.
63 min: Pryor puts the ball down on the first tackle as the Dragons wanting the launch an attack close to their line.
66 min: The Dragons throwing everything at the Storm defence and close to succeeding, but not quite close enough.
67 min: TRY
The inside pass by Cronk to a flying Slater shows the absolute class by the Storm fullback as he sails to the line. No defence can match it, no matter how hard they may try.
Melbourne Storm 16-4
71 min: A Dragon's mistake allows a fired up Storm side a scrum feed 30 metres out from their line.
72 min: FIELD GOAL
Not the best attempt, but Smith finally succeeds at a goal attempt again.
Melbourne Storm 17-4
76 min: A relieving penalty aids the Dragons in another attack however an error on the first tackle play sends a groan around the stadium.
78 min: The never say die attitude of Dragons comes thru late in the game but the bounce of the ball not going their way this time.
80 min: Morris looked to be nailed in goal as the Storm kick chase come thru, but an in goal pass to Boyd saves the day.
80 min: Fulltime: A tough game for both sides, but in the end a win for Melbourne on their home turf.