The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The Melbourne Storm have travelled to Toyota Park tonight, running out 36-28 winners, all but ending the Cronulla Sharks' season for 2004.
In a sometimes firey match, the Storm matched it with the home side in attack while dominating the ruck. At half time, the visitors held a 26-14 lead.
Cronulla opened the second half scoring and got within six points before the Storm stretched their lead.
The Sharks scored a late try following the sin binning of Cronulla's Jason Stevens and Matthew Rieck and as well as Melbourne's Matt King in the 75th minute. All three players being sent for fighting at the back end of match full of niggle amd ill-disciplined play.
The Sharks, who are have been outside of the top eight since round 20, need to win their round 26 clash with the Cowboys while keeping an eye on this weekend's Cowboys v Wests Tigers clash, both sides still blocking their path to a finals berth.
Toyota Park Referee: Tim Mander
SHARKS 28 Tries: N. Vagana 2, M. Rieck, B. Kimmorley, Merritt Goals: M.Hilder 4/6 defeated by STORM 36 Tries: D. Kidwell, M. Geyer 2, B.McDougall, B. Slater, S. Bell, Johnson. Goals: 4/7 Orford, Kearney 0/1
By the clock: 0 min: Sharks kickoff.
6th Minute: TRY - STORM Kidwell scores out wide for storm after Cronulla struggle to keep possession. Conversion unsuccessful. STORM 4-0
9th Minute: TRY - STORM Geyer scores out wide again after some good ball control from Storm. Conversion unsuccessful from Orford STORM 8-0
16th Minute: TRY - SHARKS Great lead up work from Bailey, he draws the fullback and passes to Vagana who scores under the posts. Conversion successful STORM 8 - 6
21st Minute: NEWS - possible try to Cronulla off to the Video ref
21st Minute: TRY - SHARKS It came back to refs descision. Kimmorley puts the bomb up and Vagana takes the ball on the sideline and scores in the corner. Hilder converts from the sideline SHARKS 12 -8
25th Minute NEWS - Good comeback from Sharks as the Storm were starting to dominate
26th Minute TRY - STORM Try to Ben Macdougall after a grubber from Orford. Conversion unsuccessful from Orford. STORM 12- SHARKS 12
29th Minute TRY - STORM Try to Slater after another grubber from Orford. Things could start to get ugly for the Sharks. Conversion successful from Orford STORM 18 - 12
34th Minute: TRY - STORM Try to Geyer after some flimsy defence around the ruck from the Sharks. Conversion successful from Orford. Sharks need to turn things around quickly or the game could be all over soon. STORM 24 - 12
38th Minute: PENALTY GOAL - STORM Lucky penalty to Storm right in front. Orford converts STORM 26 - 12
40th Minute: PENALTY GOAL - SHARKS Holding down in the tackle from storm. Hilder converts. STORM 26 - 14
The Storm have dominated territory & possession in the first half. Too many missed tackles from the Sharks. The Sharks will have to reverse this in the second half to have any chance.
Second half underway.
41st Minute: possible try to Storm. Off to the Video ref, possible double movement. No TRY double movement
43rd Minute TRY - SHARKS Try to Rieck out wide after Sharks spin the ball wide and create an overlap . Conversion successful from Hilder STORM 26 - 20 GAME ON....
46th Minute NEWS: Storm held up over the line
53rd Minute NEWS: Back to Back penalties to Storm right on the Sharks line.
54th Minute: TRY - STORM Try to Steven bell after back to back sets of six. Orford converts from out wide STORM 32 - 20
57th Minute: NEWS Cronulla are struggling to hold possession and are giving the Storm to many chances at this stage.
67th Minute : Off to the Video Ref possible try to Sharks after a mistake by Storm.
67th Minute TRY - SHARKS Kimmorley scores after getting the OK from the Video ref. Hilder misses his first shot at goal from the sideline STORM 32 - 24
70th Minute NEWS: It's amazing the Sharks are still in the game, after their performance tonight.
75th Minute NEWS: A punch up on the sideline. Matt King came in with a king hit after the fight. Jason Stevens & Matt King sent to the sin bin,Mathew Rieck also Penalty to Storm. Sharks fans no too happy
77th Minute: TRY - STORM Try to Storm under the post. Kearney attempts the kick from right in front and misses, disgraceful kick. STORM 36 - 24
78th Minute: TRY - SHARKS Merrit scores out wide. Hilder misses conversion STORM 36 - 28
FULLTIME : Storm win after a late surge from the Sharks. A thoroughly deserved win to the Storm. Is this the end of the season for the Sharks? A great game for Matt Orford always dangerous and rallied his troops superbly all night. Steven Bell caused problems for the Sharks defense everytime he touched the ball and Jason Stevens despite being sin binned late in the match never stopped trying for the Sharks.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - M Orford (Storm) 2 - S Bell (Storm) 1 - J Stevens (Sharks) -----------------------------------------