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The Melbourne Storm have beaten fierce rivals New Zealand Warriors by 14-12 in a semi-final like game at Ericcson Stadium tonight.
In a hard encounter the Storm eventually prevailed after a real tough battle with plenty of injuries and big hits. The surface was rather greasy, adding to the difficulty in the handling department, but both teams were very focused on the clash which was somewhat of a curtain raiser to the September fever that?s only a month away.
Warriors coach Daniel Anderson would be very disappointed with his side which looked a little lost without Stacey Jones calling the shots. By contrast Melbourne were composed under pressure and handled the pressure placed upon them by the New Zealand team early in the second half.
In the end the Warriors will probably count this as one that got away, and Melbourne will be very satisfied with the result as few teams walk away from Auckland smiling.
Saturday 2 August 2003 7:30 PM Local 5:30 PM AEST Ericsson Stadium Referee: Stephen Clark Video Referee: Phil Cooley Scorers: WARRIORS Tries: Toopi, Anderson Goals: Hohaia 2/2 STORM Tries: Reynoldson, Bai Goals: Orford 3/4
Leagueunlimited.com Player of the Year Awards
3 ? R. Kearns (Storm) 2 ? C. Smith (Storm) 1 ? L. Hohaia (Warriors)
By the clock:
Warriors get the game underway in cold conditions.
2 min: Fa'afili comes close to scoring out wide but the final pass is judged forward.
NEWS - The opening exchanges have been tough, with both teams having opportunities but strong defence prevailing. Shaping to be a good game of footy.
12 min: Matt Geyer goes close to posting the first points of the game after following through on a deft kick, but carrying it over the touch line.
NEWS - Some greasy conditions making the game difficult to open up, but both teams really having a dig at the moment.
25 min: PENALTY GOAL - Matt Orford kicks the Storm out to a 2-nil lead after an indiscretion in the play the ball by the Warriors.
30 min: TRY - Storm. Kirk Reynoldson crashes over for Melbourne to put the first try on the board after half an hour.
31 min: Orford makes no mistake with the conversion and the Storm now lead 8-nil.
Tough game at the moment. Both teams obviously know the importance of the game to their semi-final prospects and are taking it very seriously. Warriors perhaps lacking a bit of spark through the loss of Stacey Jones.
NEWS - Bit of a dust up between Hohaia and Orford as the frustration starts to seep out of the Warriors.
Both teams fighting it out at the moment. Good to see a high quality game with strong defence. The Warriors look like they'll probably try to open the game up in the second half though. Conditions very greasy at the moment.
Storm kick-off to restart play. Crowd a respectable 15,207 on a cold night in Auckland.
42 min: TRY - Warriors. Toopi get the Warriors back in the match from close range after a huge bust from Latu. Storm lead 8-4
42 min: Hohaia converts for the Warriors. Storm 8 Warriors 6.
48 min: TRY - Warriors. Vinnie Anderson barges over for the home team. Warriors back in control of the match and lead 12-8.
63 min: TRY - Melbourne. Marcus Bai scores out wide after some great work by Orford. Decision referred to video referee for confirmation. Scores tied at 12-all.
64 min: Orford puts it about 25 metres wide of the upright and probably wouldn't have hit a third pair of stick. Scores still locked at 12-all.
71 min: PENALTY GOAL - Orford belts one over from 42 metres out to take the lead. Storm in front 14-12.
Storm hold on to take the 2 points home to Melbourne. The Warriors must be disappointed with their effort, seemingly having the game under control just after half time.