Storm hold out Warriors in hard fought

Round 1
New Zealand Warriors 16 v Melbourne Storm 22

Match summary:

The Melbourne Storm have opened their 2006 campaign with a gritty win over the New Zealand Warriors by 22-16 in Auckland. Both teams struggled to get some cohesion going throughout the match, but the generally ugly affair was punctuated with some thrilling moments.

The Storm?s new half back, Cooper Cronk, began the season in solid fashion in the role vacated my Matt Orford. He tried several chips over the top for Billy Slater and generally ran the game well. Hooker Cameron Smith was a tower of strength, making almost 40 tackles and scoring a great solo try. Likewise, boom rookie centre Greg Inglis showed a bit of his potential, bagging a great try and being involved in many of the Storm?s attacking raids.

It was Inglis who opened up the scoring in the 9th minute, palming off would-be Warriors defenders to race 60m and score. He was elected the goal kicker for the day and was pretty ordinary, missing his first attempt and only kicking one from five.

The Storm extended their lead 17 minutes later through the first of Matt Geyer?s two tries after they put it through the hands close to the line and caught the Warriors napping out wide. They took the 8-point margin to the break but didn?t hold it for long after the resumption of play.

The Warriors looked a different team in the second half with more purpose and commitment. They began playing more like a team and halfback Nathan Fien was doing well guiding them around the park.

They scored in quick succession, the first in the 44th minute after some handy work from Faumuina and Webb, who found Ropati lurking out wide and reduced the deficit to 2 after Martin?s conversion. Three minutes later they crossed the stripe again to take the lead with a cross-field kick from Fien spilling over, with Koopu on hand to clean up the scraps.

This had the Warriors up 10-8 and they did well to hang on for ten minutes before the Storm hit back through Smith, who sniffed out a try close to the line, converted by Inglis. Again it was backed up quickly, with the Storm carting the ball upfield through Crocker who offloaded to Inglis before Geyer found himself with another four pointer.

Taking an 18-10 lead with 20 minutes to go put a dampner on the Warriors outlook, but they managed another try through Vatuvei in the 67th minute, before a sensational flick pass off the ground by Billy Slater gave Steve Turner the match winner in the corner. A tense 10 minutes was played out but the Storm?s 22-16 lead and ultimate victory was never under any real threat.


New Zealand Warriors: 16
Tries: Wairangi Koopu, Jerome Ropati, Manu Vatuvei
Goals: Tony Martin 2/3

Melbourne Storm: 22
Tries: Matt Geyer(2), Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith, Steve Turner
Goals: Greg Inglis 1/5

Ericsson Stadium
Referee: Steven Clark

Live commentary

0 min: NEWS Both teams as per the program. Michael Luck promoted to the starting side for Wairangi Koopu.

Beautiful day over here in Auckland. The sun is shining bright and it looks to be a terrific game of footy ahead, as Steven Price leads out the Warriors for the first time in 2006.

1 min: NEWS And we're underway in the first half!

5 min: NEWS Cameron Smith dribbles a ball into the ingoal for Billy Slater, but he grasses the opportunity and is ruled offside.

9 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Boom rookie Greg Inglis snaps up the ball from a wayward scrumbase pass and takes on some flimsy Warriors defence down the western side of the field to race 60 metres and score. Unfortunately, his attempted conversion is nowhere near as pretty and the score remains.
Storm 4-0

16 min: NEWS Both sides keen to use the ball and move things about in this game with possession changing hads a bit in the opening stages as they dust off the cobwebs.

22 min: NEWS A bit of biff breaks out with Fien and Crocker pushing and shoving. Neither side can really hold onto the ball at the moment and give themselves a chance to mount an attack or sustain any pressure.

26 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
A backline raid in the Warriors territory sees Matt Geyer sneak over out wide for the Storm's second try. Steve Clark goes to the video ref for confirmation and it's awarded. Inglis again fails, this time from a much more difficult position.
Storm 8-0

35 min: NEWS Both sides doing a little better with the ball in hand now. Some of the hits are very intense with lots of argy-bargy going on.

37 min: NEWS Billy Slater, known better for his blistering attack, reels in Clinton Toopi who looked certain to score of a scrum play. Great footy all round!

40 min: NEWS And we go to the sheds with the Storm leading the Warriors by 8-0. Both teams squandered plenty of opportunities, with the second half likely to be focussed on keeping possession.

It's still anyone's game from here though, with neither team really having the upper hand.

41 min: NEWS And w're underway in the second half!

42 min: NEWS Try disallowed to Tony MArtin for putting his foot in touch close to the line, after rookie Grant Rovelli produced a pinpoint cut-out pass to set things in motion.

44 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Faumuina and Webb engineer a great move down the eastern side of the field to put Ropati in for the Warriors first try. Tony Martin adds the extras and the Warriors are very much back in the action and looking a better side in the second half.
Storm 8-6

47 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
Fien puts up a cross field kick and the ball comes down for rampaging second rower Koopu, who shows a great pair of hands to ground it. Martin from out wide hits an upright and the crossbar before the conversion is waved away. The Warriors are a completely different team here and now have all the momentum.
Warriors 10-8

55 min: NEWS A period of consolidation for both teams here as they start to find their rhythm.

56 min: NEWS Ryan Hoffman for the Storm is taken from the field with a concussion.

57 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
After working the ball upfield, Smith darts out from dummy half and scores next to the posts in a pretty simple effort. Inglis converts his first from the day, by far the easiest.
Storm 14-10

59 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Matt Geyer scores his second try out wide after Crocker made some space up the middle of the field and found Inglis, who took on the defence and dished to the former Origin winger to go in next to the corner post. Inglis misses again from a tough position and Melbourne lead by 8.
Storm 18-10

66 min: NEWS Warriors putting some pressure on the Storm here with back-to-back sets.

67 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors
A nice chip into the ingoal by Fien sees Vatuvei swoop on the ball and score. Some doubt on the grounding sees the video referee award a benefit of the doubt to the Warriors. Tony Martin boots it from the sideline and the Warriors are back in the reckoning.
Storm 18-16

70 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Billy Slater carries the ball to the line and produces a stunning flick pass to winger Turner as he hits the ground. Sensational stuff and a little hard to believe given the flow of play. Inglis misses again and is having a dog of a day with the boot.
Storm 22-16

77 min: NEWS Exciting final stages of the match here as the Warriors are throwing it around hoping to jag a try, with the Storm counter-attack also very flambuoyant.

80 min: NEWS The Storm hold on to record a hard fought victory over the Warriors across the ditch in New Zealand.

League Unlimited Player of the Match Awards:
3 - C Smith (Storm)
2 ? G Inglis (Storm)
1 ? W Koopu (Warriors)