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Round 23 Melbourne Storm 22 v New Zealand Warriors 10
The Melbourne Storm have returned to the winners circle tonight with a hard-fought victory over the unpredictable New Zealand Warriors at Melbourne?s Olympic Park.
The game was unspectacular in parts with handling and ball control quite poor throughout the match, but both teams certainly turned up to play and neither gave an inch in the encounter.
With the Warriors being denied a try early in the opening exchanges, Melbourne opened up the scoring in the 12th minute with Matt King scoring a powerful try, the first of his two. Both teams then upped the tempo before the home side got on the board again through a great team effort with Cameron Smith chipping into the in-goal for Billy Slater to run 40m and score.
The visitors hit back just before halftime with a great backline movement seeing Francis Meli going over in the corner. But the game was never in doubt, with the Storm scoring after the break following the customary softening-up period that saw Matt King add another try to his tally.
The Warriors fought back with twenty to go through a plucky Nathan Fien and then the game degraded somewhat, with both clubs losing the ball, playing it incorrectly and making a raft of stupid mistakes which continually turned the ball over.
Matt Orford sealed victory for the Storm in the 78th minute after a good dash from a scrum. The only concerns to arise from the match were Billy Slater?s hip injury and a bit of a dusty tackle from Ruben Wiki which will probably slip between the cracks as it wasn?t put on report.
The victory helps get the Storm back on the road to the semis, whilst for the Warriors, they are well and truly resigned to the scrap heap.
Storm v Warriors match photos: Click here to see the photo gallery for this game
MELBOURNE STORM 22 Tries: King 2, Slater, Orford Goals: Orford 3/4 NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS 10 Tries: Meli, Fien Goals: Jones 1/2
Olympic Park Melbourne Crowd: 11,072 Referee: Russell Smith Halftime: Storm 10-4
Cool conditions down here at Olympic Park in Melbourne, with the Warriors kicking off to get us underway. There are fireworks going off everywhere and a big banner for the Storm's 100th home game.
7 min: NEWS - No score as yet, but Melbourne having the better of the possession but unable to convert. Warriors have been competent in digging themselves out of their own territory.
10 min: NO TRY - Warriors. Stacey Jones puts in a chip in-goal and Louis Anderson runs 20m to pluck it before he goes over the touch line, but is ruled offside.
12 min: TRY - Storm. Orford works the ball to the left and finds some space to put Matt King through a gap who scores despite heavy attention. Orford fails to convert. Storm 4 Warriors 0.
22 min: NEWS - No change in score, but both teams playing an open and attacking style of footy.
29 min: TRY - Storm. Cameron Smith darts out of dummy half and kicks down-field from 40m out for Billy Slater, who swoops on the ball to score. Some doubt over the onside, as it was very close but Russell Smith has no hesitation in awarding the four points. Orford converts to push the lead out further. Storm 10 Warriors 0.
36 min: TRY - Warriors. A sweeping backline movement sees the Francis Meli go over in the corner. Video ref called in to adjudicate an obstruction, but rules a try. Stacye's kick falls short of the mark. Storm 10 Warriors 4.
Halftime: A tough and competitive game of footy here, with both sides giving their all. I fancy the Storm to continue on in the second half, but if the Warriors get good possession they will really push the home side.
41 min: And the Storm restart proceedings here in the second half.
52 min: TRY - Storm. After some great end to end action, Matt King has leapt high above the pack to snatch an Orford cross-field kick and extends the lead. Video ref says it's a try after checking the onside and the Storm forge ahead. Orford converts with a bit of back-spin. Storm 16 Warriors 4.
59 min: NEWS - The game deteriorating here, with both teams making plenty of handling errors and giving away stupid penalties.
61 min: NEWS - Slater leaves the field clutching at his hip after a hit by Richard Villasanti.
63 min: TRY - Warriors. As they press close to the line, Nathan Fien jinks and dummies his way through some traffic before finding the line. Video ref is involved again. Jones converts to narrow the gap. Storm 16 Warriors 10.
74 min: NEWS - Both teams playing more disciplined footy but neither can break through right now. Plenty of tough defense displayed from both sides.
78 min: TRY - Storm. Following a knock-on from the Warriors, Orford darts out from the base of the scrum to score under the posts. He converts his own try. Storm 22 Warriors 10.
Fulltime: Storm hold on to beat Warriors in a tough struggle in front of a parochial home crowd.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - M King (Storm) 2 - M Orford (Storm) 1 - S Jones (Warriors) -----------------------------------------