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On a slippery and windy Shire night, the Melbourne Storm have held on to defeat the Cronulla Sharks 14 points to 10 in a dour and sometimes spiteful affair in front of 11820 fans at Toyota Stadium.
In a match that didn't reach any great heights, the Sharks opened their 2010 account through a Luke Covell penalty goal. Both teams went back and forth, trading sets of six for much of the remainder of the first half. The match took a turn when Sharks skipper Trent Barrett was sin-binned for repeated offences in the play-the-ball area. Melbourne seemed to spring to life almost immediately with Greg Inglis getting Melbourne on the scoreboard through a typical barging run, dragging two defenders over the line to score. Cameron Smith's boot was on target and the Storm appeared confident, looking to go into the break leading by four.
However just as the half time siren was sounding Anthony Quinn, upon returning the ball from a Sharks kick, appeared to lead into the tackle with a raised forearm, causing players from both sides to rush in to a melee whilst the referees tried to maintain order. Quinn was penalised and placed on report, Sharks halfback Scott Porter, miraculously playing after the sad passing of his sister in the last 24 hours, stepped up to nail the penalty shot from the sideline, reducing the deficit to 2 and giving the Sharks some confidence, going to oranges down by two points.
When the match restarted the Sharks managed to hold on with 12 players until Barrett rejoined the fray, only for the Storm to score out wide five minutes later through Luke MacDougall. Smith converted again and then added a penalty goal ten minutes after that to seemingly put the game beyond the home team. To the Sharks credit they never gave up, hitting back with a converted try to set up a nail biting last ten minutes. Unfortunately for the home fans, their team was unable to come up with the points needed to cause the second upset of round one, going down by four points to the reigning NRL Premiers.
Best for the Storm were skipper Smith, the ever-present Billy Slater and prop Aiden Tolman, getting through a mountain of work both with the ball and without. Unluckily they lost representative forward Ryan Hoffman with an injury, which was reported to be medial ligament damage. For the Sharks Paul Gallen as always led from the front with big hits and strong carries, backed up by consistent contributors Covell, Ben Pomeroy and Luke Douglas.
Next week the Sharks fly across the ditch to face New Zealand while the premiers head further north to face the Knights, no doubt cock-a-hoop after their shock win over the Bulldogs earlier this evening.
Match Details Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 10 were defeated by Melbourne Storm 14 National Rugby League - NRL - Round 1 - Saturday March 13, 2010 7:30pm Venue: Toyota Stadium Referee: Ben Cummins and Brett Suttor Video Referee: Paul Simpkins Touch Judges: Russell Turner and Henry Peranara Crowd: 11820 Halftime: Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6 Melbourne Storm 4
CRONULLA SUTHERLAND SHARKS (10)
Tries: Luke Douglas
Conversions: Luke Covell (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Luke Covell (1/1), Scott Porter (1/1)
MELBOURNE STORM (14)
Tries: Greg Inglis, Luke MacDougall
Conversions: Cameron Smith (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to Round One of NRL season 2010, to a wet and windy Toyota Stadium, where the home town Cronulla Sharks will take on the reigning premiers, the Melbourne Storm. The Sharks are as announced while for Melbourne Todd Lowrie is out and is replaced by Jesse Bromwich
Before kick-off the players will observe a minutes silence for the sister of Sharks halfback Scott Porter
1 min: We are away! The Sharks kick off
4 min: The Sharks turn over possession only metres out from their own line, Storm on the attack
5 min: The pressure is relieved as Proctor knocks on
10 min: Ryan Hoffman has been forced off the field with what looks like a very serious injury
12 min: Back to back penalties against the Storm hand the Sharks great field position
14 min: Another penalty against Inglis for being offside gives Luke Covell a chance at 2 points
15 min: PENALTY GOAL
Covell makes no mistake and the Sharks take the lead
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 2-0
17 min: The referee calls time off to caution captain Trent Barrett for excessive infringements in the play the ball area by the Sharks. The Storm go straight on the attack with a quick tap
18 min: Pressure is off as the Storm turn over easy ball once again
22 min: Inglis puts up a huge torpedo bomb which is handled easily by Stapleton. He beats 2 defenders and makes good ground with his return
26 min: Isaac Gordon is trapped in-goal, resulting in a drop-out by the Sharks
28 min: Great goal line defence by the Sharks keeps the Premiers at bay, however the ball is dropped on the first tackle, giving Melbourne a great chance
29 min: Dane Nielsen throws the ball into touch, the Sharks escape again
29 min: Pomeroy throws a ludicrous flick pass which Covell has no hope of catching, the ball goes into touch and Melbourne are back on the attack
30 min: Ryan Hoffman rejoins the match, it appears the injury he suffered earlier is not as bad as first feared
33 min: NRL debutant Albert Kelly comes on for his first experience in the top flight
34 min: Sharks skipper Trent Barrett gets first dibs at the half time oranges, he is sin-binned for excessive penalties in the ruck
35 min: TRY
Greg Inglis scores a typical Inglis try, taking 2 defenders over the line and successfully getting the ball down, despite multiple looks from the video referee and a referral to the on-field ref, who is satisfied with the grounding. Smith adds the conversion from out wide
Melbourne Storm 6-2
38 min: Cameron Smith pokes his head through the defence and pops a great pass to a flying Billy Slater who is in the clear. He then inexplicably chip-kicks for his winger who is nowhere to be seen
40 min: Halftime is called and there's a stink! Players are coming from everywhere to get involved. Anthony Quinn is penalised and put on report for use of a forearm
40 min: PENALTY GOAL
Scott Porter lands an impressive penalty goal from the sideline to bring the Sharks within 2 points at halftime. A pretty lacklustre and rusty performance by both teams in the first half, they can only improve in the second. Expect to hear more from the fight just on halftime, alot of players involved, alot of punches thrown.
Melbourne Storm 6-4
41 min: The Storm kick-off and the second half is underway. This game is there for the taking for either club
44 min: Chief Sharks playmaker Trent Barrett rejoins the contest, we're back to 13 on 13
47 min: Great defence by the Sharks, Inglis is stopped inches from the line
49 min: TRY
Luke MacDougall crosses out wide after a popped pass from Neilsen to Slater. Smith has no worries with the sideline conversion
Melbourne Storm 12-4
56 min: Ryan Hoffman has showered and changed, he is sitting on the sideline with his leg in a brace. Word is he has medial ligament damage
59 min: PENALTY GOAL
Paul Gallen is penalised in front of the posts, for having his hands in and around the ball in the ruck. Cameron Smith has the easy shot and is successful
Melbourne Storm 14-4
62 min: A dropped ball by Tupou gives Melbourne the chance to put this game out of reach
63 min: A perfectly weighted grubber from Finch leads to Ferguson being trapped in-goal. Melbourne get the repeat set
65 min: The Sharks are still some hope as the referee calls a forward pass right on the Cronulla tryline
67 min: Nielsen drops an easy ball in great field position, letting the Sharks off the hook again. Time enough if good enough for Cronulla
68 min: The ball goes through the hands out to Luke Covell who is away down the touchline. He chips infield for his support and Pomeroy looks certain to score. The ball has other ideas as it bounces away for the Storm to pick up the crumbs on their own line.
70 min: TRY
The Sharks play the ball on the Storm try line, Paul Aiton passes back inside for an on-the-boil Luke Douglas who scores virtually untouched. Luke Covell has slotted the extra two. GAME ON!
Melbourne Storm 14-10
75 min: Five minutes to go and the game is still in the balance. The Storm look a little tired while the Sharks are looking the stronger at the moment
77 min: After some messy handling the Sharks are awarded the scrum feed 40 metres out from the Storm line
79 min: The Sharks knock on and Melbourne bring the ball out from their end
80 min: Last minute for the Sharks - it's now or never
80 min: Time off with 22 seconds left, Cronulla have the feed on the Storms 30 metre line. Albert Kelly kicks the ball straight back to Melbourne to kill any chance of a last gasp win
80 min: FULL TIME. A rusty Storm have managed to hold on against a gallant Cronulla by a 4 point margin.