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The Storm have taken the points in a dour encounter tonight at Dairy Farmers Stadium, defeating the Cowboys 26 points to 12.
It was a frustrating night for all involved. Both teams were frustrated with their poor handling and inability to put fluent plays together. The Cowboys were equally frustrated at the Storms stringent goal line defence, which refused to crack, now matter how many times they came at it.
The referees were frustrated, talking to both captains during the game regarding the increasing penalty count.
And lastly the fans were frustrated at the boring, and often inept, display put on by these two teams. This reporter certainly was.
The Cowboys enjoyed much of the possession in the opening exchanges, including three penalties to assist with field position.
They were however unable to capitalise, and the first points came completely against the run of play, as Greg Inglis gobbled up an intercept and ran the length of the field to post first points in the eigth minute.
Following a slew of errors, the Cowboys finally gained some decent field position, and in the 16th had their first points through Scott Bolton, who trailed through a kick into the in-goal from Aaron Payne.
Five minutes later and the Storm scored yet another try from seemingly nowhere. This time it was Slater who worked his magic, collecting the ball at first receiver deep in his own half, selling the dummy before slicing straight through the line and racing down field, before setting up Cooper Cronk on the inside for the try.
The Cowboys managed a few repeat sets on the Storm line at the 28th, and finally managed to find a way around, with Matty Bowen throwing a two man cut-out pass out to John Williams to dot down in the corner.
Many more handling errors followed, and the Cowboys looked completely disinterested in the game leading up to half time, resulting in an easy try to the Storm in which Inglis sliced straight through some weak defence, passed out to Chambers (who had come across from the other side of the field to get involved), and then back inside for Quinn to grab the try and take us to half time with a scoreline of 18 points to 12.
The second half was exactly like the first, only with fewer tries, and more handling errors.
Steve Turner crossed in the 56th for the only try of the second half, however there was suspicion that a Cowboy had been taken out by a dummy runner. Referee Shayne Hayne elected to ignore the video referee, and instead award the try on the spot.
The rest of the game was riddled with handling errors, and uninspired attack from both teams. The less said, the better.
Match Details Melbourne Storm 26 def North Queensland Cowboys 12 Round 3 :: Sarurday, March 28th, 2009 Venue: Dairy Farmers Stadium Crowd: 21,489 Referees: Shayne Hayne & Gerard Sutton Sideline Officials: Paul Holland & Luke Potter Video Referee: Sean Hampstead Half time: Storm 18-12
North Queensland Cowboys 12 Tries: Scott Bolton, John Williams Goals: Johnathan Thurston (2/2) Melbourne Storm 26 Tries: Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk, Anthony Quinn, Steve Turner Goals: Cameron Smith (5/5)
Team changes are as such: Cowboys: Ash Graham is out, with Shannon Hegarty coming into the team. Carl Webb will start from the bench, with Scott Bolton promoted to the starting team. Storm: Big changes for the Storm, with Willie Isa out of the team. In his place, Greg Inglis will move to the centres, Cam Smith will move to 5/8, Ryan Hinchcliffe will come in at starting hooker, and Joseph Tomane is the new man on the bench.
COWBOYS: 1. Matt Bowen 2. John Williams 19. Shannon Hegarty 4. Ty Williams 5. Ben Farrar 6. Travis Burns 7. Johnathan Thurston (c) 8. Shane Tronc 9. Aaron Payne 10. Antonio Kaufusi 15. Scott Bolton 12. Ben Harris 13. Luke O'Donnell Interchange: 11. Carl Webb 14. Grant Rovelli 16. Matt Scott 17. Manase Manuokafoa STORM: 1. Billy Slater 2. Steve Turner 3. Will Chambers 6. Greg Inglis 5. Anthony Quinn 9. Cameron Smith (c) 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jeff Lima 14. Ryan Hinchcliffe 10. Adam Blair 11. Wairangi Koopu 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Dallas Johnson Interchange: 15. Kevin Proctor 16. Aiden Tolman 17. Scott Anderson 19. Joseph Tomane
0 min: Shayne Hayne blows time on and Thurston gets us underway!
1 min: Very unlucky call for the Cowboys, with O'Donnell offload to Hegarty called forward. Storm with the scrum 40 out from the Cowboys line.
3 min: PENALTY - Cowboys: Hoffman grubbers through, Thurston cleans up and makes it to the field of play before being dragged back into the in-goal by Quinn, who subsequently gets penalised.
4 min: PENALTY - Cowboys: Quinn tackles John Williams in the air without the ball, with Williams doing a spectacular cartwheel.
5 min: Outstanding scramble defence from the Storm denies John Williams in the corner, and then forces the mistake on the following play.
6 min: Lima loses the ball cold, and the Cowboys immediately go on the counter attack.
7 min: PENALTY - Cowboys: Hoffman goes too early from marker, and the Cowboys will get another shot at the Storm line.
8 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Completely against the run of play, the Storm are first on the board through a length of the field intercept to Greg Inglis. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 6-0
10 min: John Williams loses the ball in the tackle, with replays suggesting there may have been a strip from Hoffman. Storm with the scrum on the Cowboys 30.
11 min: The Storm attempt a set piece, sending through decoy runners to drag in Ty Williams for Cronk to chip out to Turner, who just can't reach the ball and knocks it forward.
12 min: Now Hegarty has coughed it up first off the scrum. Storm to get another chance, this time from ten out.
13 min: It's a comedy of errors at the moment, with Cronk losing the ball cold.
15 min: PENALTY - Cowboys: Chambers holds down too long for the referees liking, and the Cowboys go on the attack.
16 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Cowboys Try... Bolton is claiming the try off a Payne kick, with the video referee instructed to check for onside and grounding.
16 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Aaron Payne ran to the line on the last before placing a little kick in. The kick found nothing but Storm legs, so Payne toed through again, this time it made it through and Bolton was johnny on the spot to claim the try. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. 6 all
21 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Another try out of nothing for the Storm, with Slater jumping into first receiver deep in his own half, throwing the dummy and slicing straight through the line, then racing 40 metres down field before finding Cronk who races over for the try. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 12-6
23 min: Big defence from the Cowboys forces Cronk to kick on the last ten out from his own line.
24 min: PENALTY - Cowboys: Chambers forces the ball lose after the tackle was made. Cam Smith getting a talking to about the 5-0 penalty count against his team.
25 min: Scrambling line defence once again denies the Cowboys, forcing them to take the ball to ground on the last.
25 min: PENALTY - Storm: Cowboys up inside the ten, and the Storm have their first penalty of the game.
28 min: TRY North Queensland Cowboys Repeat sets of six in defence have had their effect on the Storm, with Matty Bowen running to the line and throwing a two man cutout pass to John Williams to dart over in the corner. Conversion attempt by Johnathan Thurston successful. 12 all
30 min: PENALTY - Cowboys: Storm found inside the ten yet again, Cowboys to go on attack 40 out from their line.
31 min: Fresh on the field, Grant Rovelli coughs the ball up with his very first touch.
32 min: PENALTY - Storm: O'Donnell guilty of a "choker" hold. Storm on the Cowboys 20.
32 min: Cronk passes back inside to Tolman but the ball is called forward. Cowboys scrum ten out.
34 min: Cowboys on attack, but you wouldn't know it, with all the players bunched around the play the ball, and none of them looking too eager to take the ball up. Matty Bowen kicks it away on the 4th just to get them out of trouble.
35 min: TRY Melbourne Storm The Cowboys poor attidute in attack has extended to their defence, with Inglis slicing through as easy as a hot knife through butter, before linking up with Chambers on the outside, who then passed back in to Quinn for the spoils. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 18-12
38 min: PENALTY - Cowboys: Thurston collects the ball following a chargedown, and is held by Koopu who repeatedly tries to steal the ball one-on-one, only succeeding after another player gets involved.
39 min: Accidental offside call against the Cowboys, Storm race to form the scrum 20 out with less than a minute remaining.
39 min: Chambers coughs the ball up on the first tackle, and that should take us through to half time.
HALF TIME It's half time here at Dairy Farmers Stadium, where the visitors lead the home town team by 18 points to 12.
Despite having had five less sets than the Cowboys, and being on the wrong side of the penalty count, the Storm find themselves on top at the break, thanks largely to some phenomenal scrambling defence on their own line. The Cowboys haven't helped their cause, only being able to complete 15 of their 23 sets so far.
Will Thurston and Bowen be able to combine to bring their team the win? Or will Inglis continue to prove there's absolutely nothing he can't do? Stay tuned, the second half is just moments away!
40 min: And we're back underway!
44 min: Simple end-to-end stuff for both teams to start the second half. Neither team looking to chance their arm just yet.
45 min: Phenomenal catch under pressure by Slater, taking a towering Thurston kick with Bowen right on top of him.
46 min: Bowen loses the ball coming out of his own line, and the Storm will go deep on attack.
47 min: Storm attack not looking as crisp tonight, with Slater juggling the ball before eventually passing forward to Tomane.
49 min: Such a promising game has turned into a scrappy affair, with three knock-ons in the last minute.
50 min: PENALTY - Storm: Manuakafoa ruled to have been offside when he collected the ball. Melbourne with a full set 15 out from the Cowboys line.
51 min: PENALTY - Storm: Travis Burns gets a bit niggly in a tackle, and Cam Smith points to the sticks.
52 min: PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm
Melbourne Storm 20-12
55 min: PENALTY - Storm: Cowboys penalised for a high shot. Melbourne 10 out from the Cowboys line.
56 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Big question mark over this as Thurston looks to have been taken out by a decoy runner on the way to Turner scoring in the corner, but Shayne Hayne ignores the video ref and awards the try immediately. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 26-12
60 min: Promising set by the Cowboys comes apart at the death through a poor kick from Ty Williams.
61 min: PENALTY - Storm: Thurston not square at marker. Storm on the Cowboys 40.
62 min: Looking to close this match out, Inglis forced the offload and it went straight to a Cowboy.
63 min: Thurston attempts a chip on the run, but doesn't get any depth on the ball and it goes straight to Tomane.
64 min: Cowboys looking promising, but execution is letting them down, with Thurstons pass to Webb bouncing off his shoulder.
65 min: Melbourne not executing much better, and look to be inviting the Cowboys back into this one.
65 min: Fantastic goal line defence once again denies the Cowboys, this time Slater puts his body on the line to hold O'Donnell up over the line.
66 min: Almost a try to Hinchcliffe here, as Cronk chipped behind the defence for Slater, however the bounce went straight over his head and into the arms of the trailing Hinchcliffe who set sail for the line, only to be brought down by John Williams a metre out.
73 min: Cam Smith makes a big incision down the middle of the field, before he's brought down 20 out from the Cowboys line and then loses the ball in trying to play it.
74 min: Story of the night for the Cowboys, with Bowen losing the ball in a tackle on his own 40.
77 min: Cowboys launch another promising attacking raid, however like all others before it the ball has ended up over the sideline.
77 min: PENALTY - Storm: The Cowboys follow up the error by giving away a penalty.
FULL TIME It's full time here at Dairy Farmers, and the Storm have taken the points here tonight, defeating the Cowboys by 26 points to 12