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The Melbourne Storm have scored six second half tries to blitz the Brisbane Broncos 31-14 in the Qualifying Final at Suncorp Stadium tonight.
Brisbane dominated the first half with Darren Lockyer putting together an excellent kicking game while the Broncos forwards dominated the ruck. But at half time, the score line read just 8-0 in favour of Brisbane, keeping the visiting Melbourne side well within range.
The Storm then threw down the gauntlet with three stunning tries soon after the break. Five eighth Scott Hill scored after dummying past Brisbane fullback Karmichael Hunt before setting up Steven Bell, putting the visitors in front for the first time. A third try in the 49th minute to winger Matt King saw the Storm race to a 14-8 lead.
Ten minutes later the Storm were in again when fullback Billy Slater raced through some tiring defence and at 20-8, the Melbourne side looked unbeatable.
But the Broncos responded when centre Brent Tate stepped through to run 90 metres to score, putting the home side just six points behind with 13 minutes to go. Darren Lockyer then rallied setting up play and for a while, the Broncos looked to be coming back.
But the Storm were not to be denied with Matt Orford cutting loose to score on the back of some outstanding forward work, Robbie Kearns being a stand out in the Melbourne pack. A field goal from Orford in the 74th minute put the match beyond doubt. Then in the final minute, Scott Hill delivered a flick pass, setting up winger Matt Geyer to score in the corner.
McIntyre System update: The result means that the Broncos will be watching the other Qualifying Finals: Bulldogs vs Cowboys Roosters vs Raiders Broncos will hope that at least one of the underdogs, Cowboys or Raiders, are defeated. If both sides win, the Broncos bow out for 2004.
The Storm victory creates a more than nervous wait for the Dragons who were defeated 31-30 by the Panthers last night. The Dragons now have to bank on both the Cowboys and Raiders going down. If one of those sides win, the Dragons bow out for 2004.
Scorers: BRONCOS 14 Tries: Carroll, Tate Goals: Lockyer 3/3 defeated by STORM 31 Tries: Hill, Bell, King, Slater, Orford, Geyer Goals: Orford 3/6. Field goal: Orford
Suncorp Stadium, Crowd: 31,100 Referee: Stephen Clark
By the clock: Pre match: Huge crowd at Lang Park to see third placed Broncos take on sixth place Storm. Match two of the finals series about to get underway. Teams running onto the field... Referee Steve Clark blows the whistle... kick off!
5 min: NEWS - Big defence from both sides but the Broncos dominating early on. The Broncos get the first penalty and are attacking from 35m out before turning over possession.
8 min: NO TRY - Broncos denied when Gary Tupou's foot grazes the touchline following a desperate diving tackle from Storm fullback Billy Slater.
10 min: PENALTY GOAL - Broncos. Darren Lockyer makes no mistake from right in front. Follows penalty against Storm for holding down. Broncos 2-0
15 min: NEWS - Broncos get another penalty. Penalty count 4-0 in favour of the home side. Storm have done well to hang in there with only 42% possession. The Broncos look to be warming up.
18 min: TRY - Broncos. From close range Tonie Carroll runs into a hole off a Lockyer pass and scores next to the posts. Conversion Lockyer. Broncos 8-0
25 min: NEWS - Amazing passage of football where David Kidwell (Storm) runs some 60m before passing inside to a flying support who is cut down from behind by Broncos halfback Casey McGuire. Broncos defend grimly and earn back posssession. The match is getting fairly physical now with a bit of niggle coming in.
27 min: Storm get their first penalty. Penalties favour Broncos 5-1
29 min: NO TRY - Storm denied when Matt Geyer chases through on a grubber and is unable to get a clean touch down. A difficult chance but the first set where Melbourne have had a real opportunity.
35 min: NEWS - Slater comes within a whisker of scoring after Matt Orford grubbers into the in-goal and bounces of the upright. Lockyer gets there to intervene and its a line drop out.
38 min: NEWS - Another penalty to Broncos who are the attack but in a half with too much drooped ball from both sides, the Broncos spill possession.
HALF TIME SUMMARY: In a sometimes sloppy but highly entertaining match, the Storm can be happy with just an 8-0 scoreline against them. The Broncos have enjoyed the majority of possession and field position thanks to a dominant display around the ruck, an excellent kicking game from Lockyer, and 6-1 penalty count. By rights, the Broncos should be further ahead. If the Storm start getting more ball, they could very well come back to upset the locals. Its anyone's game.
Second half underway...
42 min: TRY - Storm. Scott Hill scores after Alex Chan sets up play from half way. Into open space, Hill sells Broncos fullback Karmichael Hunt a big dummy and races over to score under the posts. Conversion Orford. Broncos 8-6
46 min: TRY - Storm. Steven Bell scores in the corner after Scott Hill draws in two players and flicks a pass out the back to Bell. Follows a sustained attack from the re-start. Conversion Orford is pushed wide. Melbourne storms to the front 10-8
49 min: TRY - Storm. Matt King scores in the corner unopposed as the Broncos have forgotten how to mark up. A simple overlap. Conversion Orford misses. Storm 14-8
54 min: NEWS - Lockyer slices through and with only the fullback to beat, has no one in support. In the play, Stuart Kelly races through and only needs one pass for a Broncos try, but no there to back up. NEWS - A number of Broncos off being rested including Gorden Tallis and Petero Civoniceva.
59 min: TRY - Storm. Billy Slater bursts through from 10m to score in good position. Broncos looking shot to bits. Conversion Orford. Storm 20-8
63 min: NEWS - Broncos troops returning including Tallis in his last home game... but will it be enough? The Brisbane side seem to be permanently camped in their own half now.
66 min: TRY - Broncos. Brent Tate steps and gets around his oppsite and then runs 90m to score. Conversion 15m in from touch, Lockyer is successful. Game is back on! Storm 20-14
71 min: TRY - Storm. Matt Orford steps and looks and then runs through five tired Broncos defenders to score next to the posts. Follows a sensational run from Ben McDougall. Conversion Orford. Storm 26-14
74 min: FIELD GOAL - Storm. Matt Orford has all the time in the world and slots the match winner. Storm 27-14
80 min: TRY - Storm. Matt Geyer scores out wide after Scott Hill again draws in players and delivers a beaut flick pass out the back. Conversion attempt from Orford just wide. Storm 31-14
FULL TIME SUMMARY: An outstanding second half from the Melbourne Storm, coming out of the blocks at full pace and blowing the Broncos away. The Storm completely turned around the first half by dominating possession. Scott Hill and Matt Orford in tremendous touch while all the forwards laid the platform. The Broncos, despite the efforts of Darren Lockyer and a long range try from Brent Tate, simply ran out of steam. Not the send-off from Lang Park that Gorden Tallis would have hoped for. Depending on other results, the Broncos should live to fight another day.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - S Hill (Storm) 2 - M Orford (Storm) 1 - R Kearns (Storm) -----------------------------------------