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The Melbourne Storm have run out unconvincing 14-8 victors over a gallant Cronulla Sharks, celebrating captain Cam Smith's 200th game in the right fashion.
An interesting first half would see no points scored by either side, but it wasn't through a lack of trying. The best chance for both side's was in just the 6th minute when Cronulla halfback Scott Porter took the ball to the line and engaged the Melbourne defence before delivering a perfect short ball to fullback Isaac Gordon. Unfortunately for the Sharks, the fullback couldn't hang onto the ball despite being into a gap with just Storm fullback Billy Slater to beat. Sharks forward Luke Douglas limped from the field in the 10th minute with suspected medial ligament damage to his left knee, in a blow to the visitors. The Storm, however, did show glimpses of their potential and went close to scoring, but lacked the polish at the end. Their best chance of the half came in the 38th minute when centre Maurice Blair got a perfect flick pass to winger Matt Duffie to send him sprinting down the eastern touchline. With fullback Billy Slater looming up in support, Sharks five-eighth Wade Graham saved the situation for the Cronulla side, with his left hand getting in the way of the pass before he was tackled in the in-goal by Slater. Some enterprising play from the visitors on the stroke of halftime with prop Kade Snowden kicking for his winger Stuart Mills. The winger batted the ball back towards Ben Pomeroy, but the centre couldn't hang onto the ball and both sides went to the break locked at 0-all; the first time this season that has occurred.
The first try of the afternoon came after 47 minutes when the Storm opened their account. The try wasn't pretty, but Queensland centre Dane Nielsen was in the right place. Five-eighth Gareth Widdop's cross-field kick for winger Sisa Waqa was knocked back into the waiting arms of Nielsen who dived over in the corner. Celebrating game number 200, captain Cameron Smith made no mistake with his conversion from the sideline. However, the Sharks would hit back almost immediately through fullback Isaac Gordon. Sharks captain Paul Gallen drifted across field, drawing several Melbourne defenders across with him, before delivering a subtle inside pass for the fullback who outpaced Billy Slater on his way to the tryline and halfback Scott Porter's conversion levelled the scores up once more. Penalty goals to either side ensured the final 10 minutes would keep the AAMI Park crowd on the edges of their seats, before Sisa Waqa scored the winner in the 72nd minute, albeit with a bit of luck involved. Again running the ball on the last, Widdop attempted to grubber into the in-goal, with the ball deflecting off the Sharks defence, back into the five-eighth's arms before he delivered the pass on the outside to the winger who scored in the corner. Again Smith made no mistake with the conversion from touch and the Storm played smart, hanging on for an ugly, but effective, 14-8 win.
Next week, the Sharks face the Broncos at Toyota Park on Friday night, while the Storm travel to ANZ Stadium to tackle the Rabbitohs next Sunday afternoon.
Melbourne Storm 14 defeated Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 8
National Rugby League - Round 12 - Sunday May 29, 2011 2:00pm
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Steve Lyons and Phil Haines
Video Referee: Paul Simpkins
Touch Judges: Steve Carrall and Jason Walsh
Halftime: Melbourne Storm 0 Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 0
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Cameron Smith (2 Conversions, 1 Penalty Goal)
2 Points - Billy Slater
1 Point - Paul Gallen
MELBOURNE STORM (14)
Tries: Sisa Waqa, Dane Nielsen
Conversions: Cameron Smith (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (1/1)
CRONULLA SUTHERLAND SHARKS (8)
Tries: Isaac Gordon
Conversions: Scott Porter (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Scott Porter (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good afternoon and welcome to AAMI Park in Melbourne for this afternoon's round 12 encounter between the Melbourne Storm and Cronulla Sharks. The Storm have had two weeks to contemplate what went wrong in their last encounter in Melbourne where they suffered a shock 20-12 defeat at the hands of the Raiders. The Sharks on the other hand, will want to bounce back from their 40-6 hammering at the hands of the Parramatta Eels on Monday night.
In team changes, just the one adjustment to both sides, with Melbourne winger Anthony Quinn ruled out. He will be replaced by Sisa Waqa in jumper number 18. For the Sharks, Siosaia Vave comes onto the interchange bench in place of Broderick Wright. Kick off for the main game is scheduled for around 2.05pm.
In the Toyota Cup curtain raiser, the Cronulla side have come away surprising 42-28 victors over the Storm, inflicting the home sides first defeat in seven games at AAMI Park in 2011.
1 min: We're underway here at AAMI Park with the Sharks sending the ball towards the southern end of the ground.
2 min: The Storm show some razzle dazzle down the eastern touchline before Cronk's kick sits in the in-goal with the Sharks getting back into the field of play.
3 min: The Sharks go 90m with their first set in possession, with the Storm now 20m out from their own line.
4 min: Cronk's banana-type kick on the last tackle lands a metre in from touch. Sharks scrum.
5 min: Some good interchange of passing sees Morris plug a kick into the corner which is picked up on the full by Waqa.
6 min: The Sharks create an overlap on the Storm's left hand side defence and Porter put Gordon into a gap, but the fullback dropped the ball cold.
7 min: PENALTY Storm. Sharks through Best taking too long to get off Blair.
8 min: PENALTY Sharks. Cronk grubbers into the in-goal, but Slater is ruled offside.
9 min: Douglas is slow to his feet after his left leg buckled awkwardly in the tackle.
10 min: Graham's bomb on the last tackle is safely defused by Slater.
11 min: Cronk's attempted 40/20 on tackle three comes up just short as Gordon cuts it off.
12 min: Slater loses the ball with a loose carry on the first tackle. A chance here for the Sharks.
13 min: Graham's grubber on the last tackle is picked up by Slater
14 min: 40/20 Melbourne Storm
Cameron Smith kicks a 40/20.
Smith kicks early in the tackle count and comes up with his second 40/20 of the year to put the Storm on the attack.
15 min: The Storm knock the ball on from the scrum, after Slater chimed into the backline, but his pass to Widdop was ordinary, before the five-eighth dropped the ball in the tackle.
16 min: News from the Sharks dressing rooms is a possible medial ligament tear for Luke Douglas.
16 min: The Sharks direct the play towards their right side before Pomeroy's pass can't find his winger and the ball goes into touch.
17 min: PENALTY Storm. Scrum penalty! We haven't seen one for a long time, but we've got one here at AAMI Park.
18 min: Terrific sliding defence by the Sharks sees them bundle Blair into touch. The big three of Smith, Cronk and Slater all combined, but the centre was going nowhere other than over the sideline as the Sharks muscled up.
19 min: PENALTY Sharks. Widdop with hands in the ruck.
21 min: Some sloppy play from the Storm sees Proctor try to send Blair away down the sideline, but his pass goes to ground. Scrum Sharks.
22 min: PENALTY Sharks. Woolnough tries to slow the play-the-ball down and pulls the leg of Graham.
22 min: PENALTY Sharks. Storm offside.
24 min: The Sharks appeared to have the Storm defence stretched, but they re-grouped before Slater claimed a great grab off a Graham bomb.
24 min: PENALTY Storm. Pomeroy on report for a lifting tackle on Nielsen.
25 min: Smith tries to stretch out on tackle five and score in game number 200, but the Sharks defence holds.
26 min: PENALTY Sharks. Smith ruled to have taken the ball off Gallen in a three-man tackle.
28 min: Porter's kick towards Mills is knocked on by Waqa. Scrum Sharks.
29 min: Morris tries to burrow over from dummy half but is held up.
29 min: Porter's cross-field kick is wonderfully defused by Duffie.
32 min: Cronk's chipkick on the last tackle almost comes off, but Manu can't get the ball away.
33 min: Pomeroy finds himself in space, but doesn't pass to his winger who would have been away, but the pass comes back inside and is intercepted by the Storm.
34 min: PENALTY Storm. Tupou pulls Proctor down after the tackle was complete.
35 min: Cronk's kick on the last tackle is batted back by Slater to Proctor who throws a looping pass which can't quite get to winger Duffie, but rolls through his legs and into touch.
37 min: PENALTY Sharks. In a bizarre situation, the Storm after having a 20m restart are penalised for having a player in front of the line.
37 min: And the Sharks don't take the two and are bundled into touch on the first tackle through Best as Duffie did well with the help of Blair and Cronk.
38 min: The Storm are away through Duffie down the eastern sideline, but his pass back inside, intended for Slater is knocked back by Graham before he is tackled in-goal by Slater. Sharks dropout.
39 min: The Storm go through the hands and Manu's pass is knocked on by Nielsen.
40 min: Snowden kicks to Mills who bats the ball back and Pomeroy can't pick up the ball, and neither can Nielsen.
40 min: Half-time here at AAMI Park and a bizarre scoreline sees the Sharks and Storm locked at 0-all.
41 min: Second half underway. Surely we can see some points in this 40 minutes!
42 min: Cronk's bomb is knocked on by Widdop.
44 min: Hinchcliffe's attempted chargedown is ruled to have not been played at and the Storm are now 10m out from the Sharks line.
45 min: Blair's speculating pass out the back is knocked on by Tupou.
47 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Storm try.
47 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Dane Nielsen. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
We've finally gotten some points! Widdop's cross-field kick towards Waqa is knocked back by the winger into the arms of Nielsen and the deadlock is broken. Smith's conversion from out wide never looked like missing.
Melbourne Storm 6-0
49 min: The Sharks kick-off is allowed to bounce over the deadball line. Storm dropout.
50 min: Graham's fifth tackle bomb sails over the deadball line on the full.
54 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by Isaac Gordon. Conversion attempt by Scott Porter successful.
The Sharks hit back and what a good try it was! Gallen's inside ball found a runaway Gordon who beat Slater on the outside to score 10m in from touch. Porter's conversion sails straight between the posts.
56 min: PENALTY Sharks. Storm lying too long on the tackled player.
57 min: Gallen's cut-out pass intended for his winger is almost intercepted by Blair, who knocks on. Scrum Sharks.
59 min: Duffie takes Porter's cross-field bomb well.
60 min: Manu bursts through some Sharks defence and tries to throw an almost impossible offload which is knocked on by Widdop. Scrum Sharks.
61 min: PENALTY Sharks. Lowe penalised for a grapple tackle.
63 min: PENALTY GOAL
PENALTY GOAL Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Penalty goal attempt by Scott Porter successful.
Porter pilots the ball between the uprights at the northern end of AAMI Park to put the Sharks in front.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 8-6
64 min: Porter kicks to the corner, but Slater is across and gets to the ball on the full.
65 min: Cronk's towering bomb is spilt by Gordon. A perfect chance for the Storm to go back in front.
65 min: PENALTY Storm. Sharks too long on the tackled player.
67 min: PENALTY GOAL
PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm
Penalty goal attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
Smith levels the scores up with a successful penalty goal attempt.
68 min: Blair knocks Hinchcliffe's pass on.
70 min: Waqa picks up Porter's disappointing bomb.
71 min: Graham's pass to Best goes straight through the centre's hands and into touch. The Storm should be in good field-goal position at the end of this set if they play it smart.
72 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Storm try.
73 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Sisa Waqa. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
The Storm are back in front! Widdop's kick on the last tackle bounces like a pin-ball, back into the arms of the five-eighth, who shovelled the ball out to Waqa who dived over in the corner. Smith's conversion from the touchline ensures they shouldn't be beaten in normal time.
Melbourne Storm 14-8
75 min: The Sharks short kick off is unsuccessful and the Storm roll over halfway.
76 min: Gordon does well to take Cronk's bomb.
79 min: PENALTY Storm. Snowden concedes the penalty after getting his foot caught in the play-the-ball.
80 min: Forward pass back to Widdop. One last chance for the Sharks with 20 seconds on the clock.
80 min: The Sharks kick downfield, but Slater is back there and the Storm hang on for a 14-8 victory.