The Melbourne Storm promised their fans that they were flying to England to seriously contest the World Club Challenge. They backed up their promise with a great display against English Super League premiers, Leeds Rhinos in a closely fought 18-10 victory. It was a day of revenge for the Melbourne Storm side, who had previously been defeated by the Leeds Rhinos 11-4 in the World Club Challenge two years ago.
Both sides prepared well for the match. Leeds recently came off a win over the Crusaders while Melbourne were too powerful for Harlequins. Both sides started the match conceeding penalties, enabling goalkickers Kevin Sinfield and Cameron Smith to open the scoring for their sides with penalty goals to set up a 2-all scoreline after the first five minutes.
The match progressed to become an arm wrestle. Leeds had the first real chance in the 14th minute, but New Zealand international Brent Webb was ruled to have dropped the ball over the tryline by the video referee, thanks to some desperate Melbourne defence. The two sides found errors coming into their game, but Leeds had more to worry about then their attack. Captain Kevin Sinfield was taken off the field with what looked like a bad injury. Melbourne superstar Greg Inglis was lucky to not receive a yellow card moments later for laying on the tackled Leeds player for too long. Leeds took advantage of the penalty with Rob Burrow punting the ball over the goals, giving Leeds a 4-2 advantage late in the first half.
Storm benchie Hep Cahill proceeded to give Leeds hooker and former Newcastle Knights captain Danny Buderus a shove, with the two sides really getting into it. Buderus was penalised moments later, giving Cameron Smith the chance to kick his second penalty goal, and tie the scores once again at 4-all. This remained to be the score at half-time.
Leeds started the second half well. Buderus managed to get an early revenge shot on Cahill. Moments later, a Cameron Smith kick richochet off Rhinos centre Brett Delaney, giving Danny McGuire space to pick up the ball and run the length of the field to score the first try of the match. Burrow converted and all of a sudden Leeds lead 10-4. It took less than five minutes for Melbourne to reply however, a swift set of passing saw Storm winger Luke MacDougall score in the corner in his comeback match. Smith converted beautifully from the sideline, and the scores were once again locked at 10-all.
The two sides put all they had into the next phase of play. The Storm were starting to get on top of the Rhinos though, and a 59th minute penalty goal from Cameron Smith put the Storm in front for the first time in the match. The Rhinos were not giving up though, trying all they could to break the Storm open. No kick, no pass and no tackle could break the Storm advantage.
With a minute left, Leeds made an error, giving field position to Melbourne for the dying moments of the match. Inglis threw the ball to winger anthony Quinn and the Rhinos fans fell quiet. They had lost their chance, for the second year running. Smith converted to give Melbourne the 18-10 advantage that ended up becoming the final score.
Storm captain Cameron Smith played the master hand in the game, and really made a move when he swapped from halfback to his usual position at hooker. Bench players Kevin Proctor and Jesse Bromwich were also impressive, as was former Eel, Todd Lowrie. With the victory, the Storm joined a number of teams, including Australian teams Brisbane Broncos and Sydney Roosters as multiple winners of the World Club Challenge.
Leeds however have the unfortunate record of becoming the first team to lose back-to-back World Club Challenges.
Melbourne Storm 18 def Leeds Rhinos 10
World Club Challenge - Monday March 1st, 2010 05:30am Venue: Elland Road, Leeds Referee: Richard Silverwood Touch Judges: James Child, Tony Martin Video Referee: Phil Bentham Halftime: Leeds Rhinos 4 Melbourne Storm 4
80 min: Bruising defense was the order of the day - however the difference between both teams tonight appeared to be their attack. Melbourne's direction improved out of sight when Cameron Smith moved to hooker, and Leeds really had no answers for the defensive strength of the Storm.
Melbourne's attack was a lot more impressive, however some of their star players appeared to go missing, namely Greg Inglis, who was hardly noticed until the last few minutes. 79 min: TRY TRY Melbourne Storm Inglis, after a quiet night, throws a beautiful pass to Anthony Quinn, who scores in the corner. Cameron Smith adds the extras, and Melbourne win the World Club Challenge! Melbourne Storm 18-10 78 min: And on the second tackle, Leeds cough up the ball. 77 min: On the last, Melbourne interchange halfback Rory Kostjasyn attempts to slice through the defence himself, however is pulled up millimetres short of the try line for a handover. However, this means Leeds will now need to work their way 100 metres downfield to score. 75 min: Melbourne trying to play safe football at this point - aiming to protect their narrow lead. 74 min: Watkins heads for the corner and almost scores, but heavy pressure from Billy Slater causes him to hit the corner post, and lose control of the ball. A chance goes begging for Leeds. 72 min: 8 minutes left in the half. Some great defence by Leuleuia causes Melbourne to lose the ball, giving Leeds a chance in good field position. 69 min: Both Diskin and Buderus are on the field at once, with Diskin playing the role of a roaming second rower. Sinfield has still not returned to the field - and as time goes on it's looking less and less likely that he will return. 67 min: Melbourne wind down the set with a grubber into the in goal area. The Rhinos cannot get the ball back in to the field of play, so play will restart with a goal line drop out. A good tactic from the Storm, winding down the clock, and using up their opponents energy levels. 66 min: Melbourne receive a penalty goal 15 metres from the Leeds try line. Billy Slater tries to convince Cameron Smith to take the 2 points, but Smith refuses and takes the tap. 66 min: Leeds throw the ball around on the third tackle, trying to find a gap in the Melbourne defensive line - but no such luck. On the last, McGuire puts a towering bomb up into the in goal area, but Quinn leaps high and wins his team the 20 metre restart. 65 min: 15 minutes left in the match - Melbourne currently lead, however they are by no means home free. 62 min: Leeds are awarded a penalty, but it is outside Rob Burrow's range at penalty goal. They take the tap instead and attempt to put some pressure on, but the set fizzles out. To make matters worse, Leeds are penalised early in the resulting set. 59 min: PENALTY GOAL PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm Leeds are penalised 25 metres out, straight in front of the posts, and Cameron Smith opts to take the penalty goal. The kick is successful, and Melbourne take the lead for the first time tonight. Melbourne Storm 12-10 59 min: Score remains at 10 points each. Both teams shuffling their players slightly, as each attempts to break the deadlock. 56 min: McGuire kicks ahead, and Watkins attempts to toe the ball on, but the bounce of the ball is unfavourable and it heads into touch. 52 min: Cameron Smith has moved to hooker, with Kostjasyn coming onto the field in the halves. Smith, and indeed the Storm, instantly look more composed. 49 min: TRY TRY Melbourne Storm After a penalty, the Leeds defenders are caught napping by a quick tap. Melbourne spread the ball wide quickly, and Luke MacDougall scores in the corner. Smith doesn't rushing the conversion attempt at all - slotting the goal from the right hand touch line. Again, the scores are level. 10 all 45 min: TRY TRY Leeds Rhinos The first try of the match is awarded! Rob Burrow adds the ever-important extra two points. Leeds Rhinos 10-4 45 min: The video ref is now checking the grounding... 45 min: Danny McGuire catches the ball after a Cameron Smith kick, runs the length of the field, and plants the ball over the try line. We head to the video ref, with the possibility of McGuire being accidentally offside, after the ball ricochets off Brett Delaney's foot. Decision pending... 43 min: Buderus gets his revenge, with a huge hit on Hep Cahill - driving him back and dumping him down. 42 min: Buderus passes to Burrow on the last, and he attempts to chip over the centre in the defensive line. The kick is slightly too deep, and Luke MacDougall cleans up to give his team a 20 metre restart. 42 min: NEWS: Leeds receive a penalty, just inside their own half. Eastwood takes the first hit up. 40 min: We're underway in the second half, Kylie Leuleuia takes the first hit up. Leeds complete the set, and Rob Burrow gets a kick away. 40 min: We head to half time with the scores tied up at 4 apiece. Both sides look dangerous when on attack, but the wet conditions and poor discipline have prevented any tries being scored. We've visited the video referee twice - in both cases being sent away empty handed.
In injury news, Kevin Sinfield is confirmed to have a thigh cork - he is expected to return. 39 min: NO TRY The try is denied, and Leeds get the chance to finish the half with one more set of six, and 20 seconds to do something with it. 39 min: And Melbourne may have scored... possibly. We head to the video referee once again. 39 min: 30 seconds left in the half, Melbourne on attack - only a few metres out from the Leeds try line. 37 min: Yet another penalty against Leeds. The game seems to be back to back handling errors and penalties, punctuated by blokes getting absolutely snotted. 35 min: PENALTY GOAL PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm This time Danny Buderus is penalised, and Cameron Smith opts to try for the two points. He hits it sweetly, straight over the black dot, and again ties up the game. 4 all 35 min: Kevin Sinfield is having his left thigh heavily strapped, presumably to make a reappearance later in the game. Perhaps his injury was just a solid cork? 34 min: Hep Cahill smashes Danny Buderus with a heavy tackle. Rhinos players take offence to the tackle, and a scuffle breaks out. After a few minutes of confusion, referee Richard Silverwood penalises Hep Cahill for the tackle. Rob Burrow, as acting captain, is also called across and is told to settle his team down. 33 min: PENALTY GOAL PENALTY GOAL Leeds Rhinos With Sinfield on the sideline, Rob Burrow lines the penalty goal up, 10 metres wide of the posts, hits it sweetly, and puts his team into the lead. Leeds Rhinos 4-2 31 min: Inglis is penalised for holding down in the tackle. He receives a talking to from the referee, and is lucky not to be in the sin bin, as the same infringement has been occurring all night. Leeds line up for the penalty kick. 31 min: Sinfield leaves the field, assisted by two trainers, with a presumed leg injury. Ali Lauititi is on the field. 28 min: ...And again Leeds cough the ball up through some poor ball security. 27 min: Cameron Smith is penalised for a high tackle on McGuire, giving Leeds opportunity to attack within 20 metres of the Melbourne Line. 26 min: Some bruising defence in this match - both sides making their presence felt with some heavy tackles and determined kick chasing. 25 min: Melbourne get piggy backed down the field as Leeds get penalised. Halfway through the set, Leeds are ruled to have touched the ball and Melbourne get a new set - but some hasty Leeds scramble defence bundles the Melbourne attacker into touch. 24 min: Leeds Rhinos almost score through Jamie Peacock, but some powerful Melbourne defence stifles the attack, stopping Peacock mere centimetres from the line. Diskin attempts to dive over from dummy half, but is easily picked off, and wastes a tackle. The set ends, and another attacking raid is diffused by Melbourne. 21 min: The high scoring match predicted by many looks to be a non-event at this point, as both teams struggle to penetrate some strong defence. Sloppy handling seems to be the order of the day... 18 min: Danny McGuire doing very well to take a grubber on his own line, earns Melbourne a line drop-out though. 14 min: The ruling comes back from the video referee - NO TRY! Good defence from Melbourne, dropped ball. 14 min: Video Referee Leeds Rhinos Could be one in the corner to Webb, might have dropped it. 13 min: Penalty against Blair and Leeds are metres away with this set. 11 min: A set close to the line but Inglis couldn't hold it, some great goal-line defence from Leeds. 9 min: Good tackling on Slater from Leeds as the two sides really begin to aim up. 6 min: PENALTY GOAL PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm Cameron Smith evens up the score with a penalty goal from ten metres out. 2 all 5 min: Now Melbourne going for the line, Leeds penalised, looks like we'll be even stevens. 3 min: PENALTY GOAL PENALTY GOAL Leeds Rhinos Penalty goal attempt by Kevin Sinfield successful. Leeds Rhinos 2-0 2 min: Now Leeds earn a penalty, looking like they'll shoot for two. 1 min: Leeds attacking very well to start, held up in goal early.