While the 2018 #NRL Pre-Season is still a few weeks away, there's a bunch of warm-up clashes happeni...
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Melbourne Storm 18 v North Queensland Cowboys 6
at Olympic Park, Melbourne
Referee: Steven Clark
The Melbourne Storm are our new competition leaders after an 18-6 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys. In what was a fantastic game of rugby league with only three penalties being awarded throughout the match, the Storm were strong in every area of the game and put on a near perfect performance in front of a strong crowd at Olympic Park.
The game started off horrible for the home side with an error being made before a tackle was made in the match. The Storm defence held strong in the first set and that set the tone for the rest of the match. Another chance went begging when Origin centre Paul Bowman went extremely close to posting the first points on the board in the 12th minute, but again the Storm defence held strong from the home side.
The first try came in superb fashion, with Cooper Cronk starting it off by putting in a cross field kick inside his own half which found winger Matt Geyer. On the next play Cameron Smith put up a massive torpedo bomb which was collected by the Storm and from that the ball went wide and Kiwi international David Kidwell scored. 15 minutes later the Storm were in again through Australian winger Matt King and that set up a handy 12-0 lead for the Storm going into the half time break.
The second half didnt start well for Storm five eighth Scott Hill, with a head clash with Dallas Johnson busting open the former international. Cameron Smith slotted over a penalty goal in the 47th minute after Greg Inglis made a line break from a kick return. The Cowboys couldnt transform their opportunities into points which frustrated them straight out of the game.
The free-flowing game continued throughout the second half with many breaks and expansive football being on show. The Storm then put the game out of reach of the Cowboys with Cameron Smith finishing of a fantastic performance and scoring out of dummy half. The Cowboys did everything possible to get on the board in the final stages of the match and were successful through Brenton Bowen and Jonathon Thurston adding the extras out wide.
For the Storm, Cameron Smith and Greg Inglis were tremendous. Smith tackled his heart out and scored a nice try and proved why he is one of the games great hookers. Smith's likely Origin team mate Greg Inglis was also superb with him making constant breaks and always causing trouble for the Cowboys.
Melbourne Storm: 18
Tries: David Kidwell, Matt King, Cameron Smith
Goals: Cameron Smith 3/4
North Queensland Cowboys: 6
Tries: Brenton Bowen
Goals: Johnathan Thurston 1/1
By the Clock
Welcome ladies and gentleman to Olympic park for a top of the table contest between the hard-hitting Melbourne Storm and the high-flying North Queensland Cowboys.
The Cowboys are coming of a solid win against the Penrith Panthers are looking for an even better performance after a couple of weeks of being below their best. The Storm on their other hand have won their past 4 in a row but face a tough task with out International back Jake Webster, Queensland back-rower Michael Crocker and Country Origin prop Brett White.
Cameron Smith and Greg Inglis have been in scintillating form for the Storm and will look to continue that sort of form just before the Origin series starts. Matt Bowen is another player who is looking to push his claim for the Queensland number 1 jersey, so expect a big performance from the electrifying fullback.
These two teams clashed earlier this year at Dairy Farmers stadium in Townsville, where the Cowboys put the Storm to the sword with an impressive 40-8 victory.
The Melbourne Storm have lost Kiwi winger Jake Webster Craig Bellemy has brought in Adam Blair as the replacement.
The North Queensland Cowboys have lost Australian forward Luke O?Donnell and Country forward Mitch Sargent. They call in big Gavin Cooper to move into the centres and that pushes Paul Bowman into the back row. Rob Tanielu comes on to the bench as we are ready to get under way here in Melbourne.
KICK OFF here at Olympic Park!
2 min: NEWS The Storms goal line defence holds out the Cowboys off in the first attacking set of the game. The crowd here at Olympic park is very vocal.
6 min: NEWS A kick gets put up by Cameron Smith that Bowen fumbles and a goal line drop out is awarded to the home team.
10 min: NEWS A fast paced game in the early going here. Both defences have been tested and both have held strong.
12 min: NEWS Paul Bowman goes extremley close in putting the first points on the board. A short ball from Thurston hits Bowman on the chest who hits the hole but just tackled short of the line. Great stuff!
18 min: NEWS Lost ball from Kiwi forward David Kidwell and the Cowboys have the scrum in good field position.
However, from the scrum Travis Norton knocks on and the Storm now have the ball.
21 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
A great try from the Melbourne Storm! A cross field kick from Cooper Cronk deep in their own territory finds Matt Geyer and from the next play Cameron Smith puts the ball high in the air, taken by the Storm who spread it out and find David Kidwell who scores a fantastic rugby league try.
Smith converts the try.
25 min: NEWS Matty Bowen on a kick return steps his way through the defence and runs a nice 45 meters to get some momentum back for the Cowboys.
32 min: NEWS The Storm defence is excellent at the moment. The Cowboys playing razzle dazzle but scrambling defence from the Storm has been fantastic.
Incredibly, there has not been one penalty yet in the game. Just adds to what has been a fast free flowing game of rugby league.
37 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Another great try from the Storm! Winger Steve Turner goes down the sideline but Matty Bowen puts on a big hit that stops the play. In the next play origin winger Matt King barges over and the Storm now have a two try lead here at Olympic Park.
Cameron Smith adds the extras.
HALFTIME here at Olympic Park!
What a half of football! The Melbourne Storm have been terrific in all areas of the game, especially in their defence. Some great tries from the home team, both of which have both come from in their own half. Thurston and Bowen have been looking dangerous but havn't been able to put that into points as of yet.
A nice fast game of football, thanks to the fact that referee Steven Clarke has not given one single penalty. It's added to what has so far been a great spectacle and the good news for all of us fans is that it's only half way in being complete.
Possession: Melbourne Storm 51% North Queensland Cowboys 49
Penalties: Melbourne Storm 0 North Queensland Cowboys 0
Completion Rate: Melbourne Storm 11/21 North Queensland Cowboys 10/17
Line Breaks: Melbourne Storm 4 North Queensland Cowboys 2
Cameron Smith gets us under way here in the Second half of this top of the table clash!
45 min: NEWS Scott Hill coming of the field with blood pouring out of his head. The Cowboys have a repeat set after a nicley weighted kick from Jonathon Thurston.
46 min: NEWS Greg Inglis from a kick return breaks the Cowboys line and makes a 50 metre run but was pulled down by Ashley Graham! Thurston then strips the ball of Matt Geyer later on in the set to give the Storm the first penalty of the game.
47 min: PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm
Cameron Smith converts the penalty conceded by Jonathon Thurston from right in front.
52 min: NEWS Ian Donnelly offloads to Greg Inglis who makes another break, puts a chip over the head of Bowen but cleaned up by Thurston but the Cowboys halfback is trapped in goal.
Repeat set to the Storm!
57 min: NEWS Again Inglis from a kick return makes another 40 metres. This kid is an absolute freak! The kick chase from the Cowboys must improve dramatically.
60 min: NEWS An error from Jonathon Thurston puts the Storm right back on the attack and now have a chance to wrap this game up.
61 min: NEWS The Cowboys recieve their first penalty after an hour of football. They must score soon to have a chance of winning this match.
68 min: NEWS The Storm recieve their second penalty of the game and look to have this won. Looking for a try to put it out of reach from the Cowboys.
70 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Cameron Smith on last tackle throws a dummy out of the dummy half position and scores the Storms third try.
Smith can't convert his own try and the scoreline remainds the same.
75 min: NEWS Matty Bowen makes a 60 metre break down the touch line only to be pulled down by Greg Inglis.
76 min: NEWS The Cowboys get a repeat set after forcing five eight Scott Hill back into the in goal line.
78 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys
It has taken the Cowboys 78 minutes but they finally go over through Brenton Bowen. Thurston passes to Bowman on last tackle who offloads to Bowen who scores the try.
Thurston nails the conversion from the sideline.
FULLTIME here at Olympic park! Melbourne Storm 18 defeats the North Queensland Cowboys 6.
A great game of football has come to a close. These two teams showed why they are on the top of the table with both teams putting in some good performances. For the Storm, Greg Inglis was excellent. Always looked dangerous with the ball and made a couple of nice line braeks. Cameron Smith was also fantastic making 40+ tackles, scoring a try and kicking 3 goals.
The Cowboys tried hard all night but just couldn't break the Storm defence. Matty Bowen always looked dangerous with ball in hand, but not even Matty Bowen and Jonathon Thurston could lead the Cowboys to a victory here at Olympic park.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Greg Inglis (Storm)
2 - Cameron Smith (Storm)
1 - Matt King (Storm)