The Storm didn’t hit the front until the 66th minute when halfback Cooper Cronk started and finished a movement down the right side with hooker Cameron Smith having a hand in the original play before Chambers burst down the sideline to find Cronk back in support.
The Storm started the match as red-hot favourites but in a weekend of so-called upsets it was the Tigers who started the match the better with a specific game plan which included quick play-the-balls and plenty of offloads. Hooker Robbie Farah kicked to the corners to negate Billy Slater’s impact and the Tigers defence which has been suspect already in 2013 was up to the task throughout the opening 40 minutes.
The opening half was a stop-start affair punctuated by penalties which ensured Melbourne couldn’t get into their methodical game plan. The Tigers opened the scoring after 16 minutes on the back of a dubious refereeing decision after it appeared Bodene Thompson took Storm five-eighth Gareth Widdop out after a kick which may be scrutinised by the match review committee. Billy Slater won the race to the ball and forced a dropout but was ruled offside and the visitors advanced the ball downfield. Early in the tackle count Farah was at it again out of dummy half and his perfectly weighted grubber into the in-goal was grounded by winger James Tedesco to give his side an unlikely 4-0 lead.
The Tigers defence continued to muscle up throughout the remainder of the half as the Storm threw everything they had at them but appeared incapable of finding a way through. Braith Anasta added a penalty goal in the 33rd minute before the amount of tackling the Tigers had done eventually took its toll in the shadows of halftime. Storm hooker Cameron Smith turned prop Siosaia Vave back on the inside where he muscled his way into the in-goal. Smith added the extras to send both sides to the break at 6-all.
The Tigers extended their lead back out to a converted try in the 50th minute although luck played a part in Benji Marshall’s try. Robbie Farah hooked a cross-field kick back towards Mahe Fonua who spilt the ball before Ben Murdoch-Masila threw a perfect around-the-corner pass to his five-eighth.
Fonua redeemed himself in the 63rd minute when he finished off a typical Melbourne Storm try. Cronk, Smith and Slater combined with successive second-man plays before the fullback found his winger who scored out wide. Smith added the extras from out wide and from there it was all one-way traffic.
Further tries to Cronk and Waqa ensured the Storm started the season with a 5-0 win-loss record and sets up a mouthwatering clash with South Sydney at ANZ Stadium next Saturday night.
The Tigers will have to regroup and prepare to face the Dragons at the SCG next Sunday.
Melbourne Storm 26 Wests Tigers 12
Venue: Melbourne Rectangular Stadium
Halftime Score: 6-all
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Cooper Cronk
2 points - Cameron Smith
1 point - Robbie Farah
MELBOURNE STORM (26)
Tries: Siosaia Vave, Mahe Fonua, Cooper Cronk, Sisa Waqa
Conversions: Cameron Smith (4/4)
Penalty Goals: Gareth Widdop (1/1)
WESTS TIGERS (12)
Tries: James Tedesco, Benji Marshall
Conversions: Braith Anasta (1/2)
Penalty Goals: Braith Anasta (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Matt Duffie 3. Will Chambers 4. Tafeaga Junior Sa'u 5. Mahe Fonua 6. Gareth Widdop 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Tohu Harris 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Tigers: 1. Tim Moltzen 2. Joel Reddy. 3. Blake Ayshford 4. Chris Lawrence 5. James Tedesco 6. Benji Marshall 7. Braith Anasta 8. Aaron Woods 9. Robbie Farah 10. Jack Buchanan 11. Bodene Thompson 12. Liam Fulton 13. Adam Blair
Interchange: 14. Ben Murdoch Masila 15. Ava Seumanufagai 16. Matt Bell 17. Eddy Pettybourne
Scored by James Tedesco. Conversion attempt by Braith Anasta unsuccessful.
Tedesco scores the first points tonight! A classy piece of play from Farah saw him trickle the ball into the in-goal and the winger won the race to the ball to open his sides account. Anasta misses from out wide.
Wests Tigers 4-0
Penalty goal attempt by Braith Anasta successful.
Anasta adds the two from in front to put the Tigers out by a converted try.
Wests Tigers 6-0
Scored by Siosaia Vave. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
Vave crashes over next to the posts to score the Storm's first try of the night and finally the home side get through a determined Tigers defence. Smith adds the extras from beside the posts.
Scored by Benji Marshall. Conversion attempt by Braith Anasta successful.
Marshall scores out wide to put the Tigers back in front! Farah's kick was hooked back towards Fonua who was out leapt by Reddy before the pass from Murdoch-Masila to Marshall was ruled to have been ok. Anasta adds the extras from the sideline.
Wests Tigers 12-6
Scored by Cooper Cronk. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
And just like that the Storm are flexing their muscle! They bust through the Tigers defence inside their own half and Cronk is there in support, he gets the ball and scores. Smith converts.
Melbourne Storm 18-12
Scored by Sisa Waqa. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
Waqa makes it extremely difficult for the Tigers after he goes through some soft Tigers defence after Slater floated a pass over the top. Smith adds the extras from out wide to extend the lead to 12.
Melbourne Storm 24-12
Penalty goal attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.
Widdop adds the extra two from in front and the Storm will make it five successive victories to start 2013.
Melbourne Storm 26-12