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A well-drilled South London Storm side produced a devastating first half to defeat the Ipswich Rhinos 82-6 in the first match of the Rugby League Conference Premier South. Against an Ipswich side which never gave up, South London delivered some powerful running and exciting backline play to close the game out at halftime with a 48-0 lead before going on with the job in the second half in a 14-try display.
It was a baptism of fire for the Rhinos who were playing there first game at the higher Premier division level and their 2 year unbeaten regular season run came to a crushing end.
Storm could not be faulted for almost the entire match, it justified the hard pre season organised by coach Rob Powell both in matches and on the training ground and the new regime showed its strength early. Carl Zachorow showed the pace and elusive running that made him a stand out player in the NL3 in the last few years by putting the Rhinos to the sword and cutting through their line to score in just 2 minutes.
In so many games last year Storm were guilty of coming out of the blocks slowly and they almost let the early advantage slip in the 5th minute but it was the last time the rhinos would sniff the storm line in the first half. After weathering the pressure Tani Kingi broke like a rapier through the rhinos defence and didnt look back until he had crossed the whitewash and nor did Storm. Form then the attack was relentless and Ipswish's defence did extremley well to hold out more attacks. But before the break Storm had extended their advantage to 48 points to nil with tries from Mick Walker two from Louis Neethling, one from Rich Singleton and Phil Molloy and a second to Carl Zacharow. As the team ran out in the second half changes had been made to the Storm with Substitutes Rich Pitchfork, Dean Harrison, Matt Jarvis and Neil Templeman all given at least a half on the pitch. Storm never let up however with all the 17 man squad working tirelessly for the club and putting the Rhinos under more pressure. Within a minute of the restart Gavin Calloo extended the Storm lead to 54 points and with Mick Smith running hard from kick offs it was extended once again with Neethling's hat trick try on 45 minutes. So many times in the last 2 years Storm have been on the rise against other teams but never finnished them off, but with clinical finnishing and hard running Storm carried on the pressure throughout the game to carry on scoring every few minutes. With two minutes to go Ipswich's hard work paid off for them with a well worked set of six and a good opportunist try from dummy half. But this was not to quell the Storm's spirits. It was a brilliant display from a strong Storm side and with a couple of players still to come back from injury the season is one to look forward to for the team.
South African back-rower Louis Neethling?s powerful running, 3 tries and 11 goals from 12 attempts made him the man of the match from a host of contenders from the Storm. Other standouts were Tane Kingi?s 3 tries, Mick Smith?s offloads, Gavin Hill?s hits and Rich Singleton?s elusive running ? all under John Ferguson and Mick Walkers direction in a side without a poor performance.
The Rhino?s best were Terry Maddison and Andrew Windridge in a developing side that showed they will be competitive in 2005, and that we will probably see the best off in the latter half of the season..
Storms Second team went down fighting to a strong Hemel Hempstead side who didnt give up to the very end. Storm took the lead early on with a try from Robin Lewis but Hemel kept coming back strongly and took the lead from two well worked moves. The lead changed hands a number of times during the game and it was credit to each team that heads never dropped and for Hemel even when Storm took a 20-10 lead. It was only on the 76th minute that the result was finally confirmed with Cameron McDonald goin over for a deserved try to round off his man of the match performance and take the spoils for Hemel 36-28.
South London Storm
1. Phil Molloy 2. Cormack Lomansey 3. Gavin Caloo 4. Carl Zacharow 5. Ricky Davy 6. Tane Kingi 7. John Ferguson 8. Mick Smith 9. Michael Walker 10. Gavin Hill 11. Louis Boshoff 12. Louis Neethling 13. Richard Singleton 14. Richard Pitchfork 15. Dean Harrison 16. Matthew Jarvis 17. Neil Templeman
1. Paul Le Marquand 2. Joe McMillan 3. Nick Woodland 4. Mike Turner 5. Akuila Masere 6. Terry Maddison 7. Adam Cook 8. Andrew Wilson 9. Andrew Lamont 10. David Ganne 11. Richard Burton 12. Darryl Walters 13. Andrew Wildridge 14. Andrew Biggs 15. Stephen Simms 16. Damian Gant
Referee: Stephen Abel
South London (Neethling 3, Kingi 3, Zacharow 2, Walker, Singleton, Molloy, Calloo, Harrison, Davey ties, Neethling 10, Walker 3 goals) def Ipswich 6 (Cook try, Maddison goal)
Man of the Match ? Louis Neethling
2nd Min ? Zacharow 50m solo try from Smith offload (Storm), Neethling converts 6-0
12th Min ? Kingi try (Storm) from bust 15m out under the posts, Neethling converts 12-0
17th Min ? Walker try (Storm) under posts after Storm go length of the field in 6 tackles, Neethling converts 18-0
20th Min ? Neethling try (Storm) from Ferguson pass 10m out, Neethling converts 24-0
26th Min ? Singleton try (Storm) from 40m solo burst, Neethling converts 30-0
28th Min ? Zacharow Try (Storm) from Smith offload, Neethling converts 36-0
36th Min ? Neethlng (Storm) beats 3 tackles to score, Neethling converts 42-0
38th Min ? Molloy (Storm) 60m try from Smith offload, Neethling converts 48-0
41st Min ? Calloo (Storm) collects loose Rhinos pass to run 50m under posts, Neethling converts 54-0
45 Min ? Neethling (Storm) runs onto Walker pass, beats two to score, Neethling converts 60-0
53rd Min ? Kingi (Storm) breaks tackle 50m out, beats cover to score, Walker converts 66-0
56th Min ? Kingi (Storm) runs onto Ferguson pass to score under posts, Walker converts, 72-0
63rd Min ? Harrison (Storm) finishes off wide move, Walker converts 78-0
[69th Min ? Singleton (Storm)sin-bin for holding down]
75th Min ? Davey (Storm) finishes off backline move to score in the corner, 82-0
78th Min ? Cook (Rhinos) scores form dummy-half next to posts, Maddison converts, 82-6