The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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South Sydney Rabbitohs 14 v Melbourne Storm 38
at Telstra Stadium
Referees: Gavin Badger
The Melbourne Storm has defeated the South Sydney Rabbitohs tonight by 38-14 at Telstra Stadium in Homebush.
Despite a spirited effort by the Bunnies and a close first half, Melbourne had too much class for the home side with a second half flurry of tries proving too much for South Sydney to handle.
The game was an arm wrestle for the first half with Melbourne opening the scoring in the 18th minute through Cameron Smith after an extended period of heavy contact in the forwards. With his conversion and a penalty four minutes later the Storm took a cosy 8-nil lead.
Souths hit back late in the half after slashing run from Luke MacDougall set up a try for flying winger Nathan Merritt who is having a superb season. With Merritt adding the extras the Rabbitohs went to the sheds at halftime trailing 8-6 and looking very much in the game.
But Melbourne turned up the heat early in the second half, scoring tries through Greg Inglis and Michael Crocker to claim a 14-point advantage with their lead extending to 20-6. Shortly after, Crocker found himself in the sin-bin for a professional foul, opening the way for Souths to come back into the contest.
They scored two quick tries through Luke MacDougall and David Fa?alogo to reign in the Storm and trail by 20-14 with 20 minutes of play remaining. But Melbourne rallied in the final quarter, dominating possession and laying on three more tries to Matt Geyer, Jeremy Smith and Chris Walker to run out 38-14 victors, dishing up what turned out to be an embarrassing result for Souths after plenty of effort had been exerted on their behalf.
The victory has set up a rare treat next Saturday night as Melbourne host the Cowboys in a table-topping clash that is sure to be a cracker of a game. The Bunnies are well and truly at the other end of the scale though, slumping to last position on the ladder after the bye to the Warriors and their superior for-and-against took them from the foot of the competition table.
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 14
Tries: David Fa'alogo, Luke MacDougall, Nathan Merritt
Goals: Nathan Merritt 1/3
Melbourne Storm: 38
Tries: Michael Crocker, Chris Walker, Matt Geyer, Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith, Jeremy Smith
Goals: Cameron Smith 7/8
By the Clock:
Both teams as per the program here at Telstra Stadium. It's a cool night and a reasonable crowd has gathered to watch this contest.
1 min: NEWS And we're underway in the first half...
7 min: NEWS No score as yet but the forwards are sorting themselves out early in the game with Melbourne enjoying the lions share of possession.
13 min: NEWS Both teams still hunting their first points of the match. Good even contest at this point.
18 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
In-form rake Cameron Smith finds his way to the line after the Storm apply some good pressure to the Bunnies line. He converts his try and the visitors take the lead.
30 min: NEWS No further score as yet with this game turning into a real arm-wrestle. The Storm are enjoying more possession but can't seem to convert it into points this stage.
34 min: PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm
The Storm take an easy two points on offer following an infringment in the ruck by Souths. This game is very tight with the Bunnies putting in some stiff resistence and these two points could come in handy later on in the match.
39 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Bunnies hit back just before halftime through try-scoring maching Nathan Merritt. He jinked his was to the line following a good break by Luke MacDougall. Merritt lands the goal from the sideline to make a game of it.
40 min: NEWS Halftime: This game has been a fairly rugged contest and probably not what most of the League community was expecting. The simple facts are that Souths are competing well with the Storm and this game will not be a pushover for the visitors. Souths are chasing their first victory for the season against the table-topping Storm and they're certainly in the hunt at the moment. If the Bunnies keep their composure and continue to play "in your face" footy to the Storm they may well cause an upset. I'm sure Melbourne will have plenty to say about it though and the second half shapes as a very good contest.
41 min: NEWS And we're underway in the second half...
45 min: NEWS Melbourne again taking the possession advantage early in the second half.
47 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Boom Storm rookie Greg Inglis snatches a try from a Scott Hill kick and puts the Bunnies on the back foot. Smith converts and maintains the 8-point advantage.
50 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Another in-form Storm player scores a try, with second-rower Michael Crocker crossing the stripe. He's furthering his claims for a starting berth in the Maroons side along with hooker Cameron Smith, who adds the extras and opens up a good lead.
54 min: NEWS Mick Crocker gets a spell in the sin bin after a professional foul.
57 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
The Bunnies hit back through winger Luke MacDougall who is having a strong game. Souths are staying in touch with the Storm much the same way they did last week. Merrit fails to convert.
60 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Back-rower David Fa'alogo breaks through the defensive line to get Souths right into the game. He's done well tonight after backing up from the Test 24 hours ago. Merrit falls short again but the gap has narrowed and the home team are within striking distance.
64 min: NEWS Crocker back on the field for the Storm.
64 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Makeshift Storm five-eighth Matt Geyer bags a try for the visitors, seemingly taking the game away from the Rabbitohs. Smith fails for the first time tonight
69 min: PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm
Smith boots another penalty to take the lead to 12 points with about ten minutes to go.
78 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Jeremy Smith sniffs out a try for the Storm as they put away the Rabbitohs. Cameron Smith kicks goal and Melbourne have this one wrapped up.
80 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
The Storm score another try close to the siren through Chris Walker to run-out big winners. Smith converts and the scoreline is a little embarrassing for the Bunnies.
80 min: NEWS Fulltime here at Homebush with the Storm running out winners by 38-16 and leaving the Rabbitohs winless so far for the season.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Cameron Smith
2 - Greg Inglis
1 - Luke MacDougall