The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The Melbourne Storm were off to a flying start in front of a big home crowd at AAMI Park. Within the first five minutes of the match, Cooper Cronk set up a brilliant try for Will Chambers. Cronk opted to run the ball on last tackle and the gamble paid off as Chambers barged his way over on the back of a Cooper's offload.
This must've rattled the mindset of the South Sydney team, as they conceded another try within three minutes. The Melbourne forwards made easy metres on the kick return and a line break from Billy Slater gave Melbourne a 78m gain. A kick handed possession over to South Sydney, but the Melbourne defense were up to the challenge, forcing Nathan Merritt back into his in goal. Merritt seemingly lost the ball cleanly in the tackle, and it was dived on by Jesse Bromwich, who was awarded the four points.
After ten minutes of the match, Melbourne were ahead by 12 points. Some great play continued for the next ten minutes, though no points were scored. Melbourne's defense restricted South Sydney and their attack looked polished. Isaac Luke made a massive break down field for the Rabbitohs but to no avail. After 18 minutes, Melbourne made the first error of the match, which incidentally was the first of 24 errors for the entire match.
Errors riddled the rest of the second half, and a penalty for holding down put Melbourne ahead by 14 points ahead. South Sydney put Melbourne under pressure with mere minutes left on the clock, and a kick across field by Adam Reynolds put Ben Te'o's name on the scoreboard for a try. Reynolds converted the try, as Te'o had scored right under the black dot, and at the half time break Melbourne lead 14-6.
South Sydney definitely took some momentum from their late try, as they came out firing in the second half. Kevin Proctor made two knock ons in quick succession, and threw away the ball in anger on the second occasion. South Sydney were awarded a penalty 30m out, centrefield. Reynolds made no mistake reducing the deficit to just 6 points, but this was the last points South Sydney would score in the match at 14-8.
Cooper Cronk set up a try for Sisa Waqa after a brilliant bullet pass to cut out two of his team mates. The try was rather dubious, as replays showed Waqa putting the ball down on Matt King's boot. However, momentum had carried Waqa over the line and he was able to put the ball down on the grass. The next set from Melbourne was great, but a wayward kick from Cronk put South Sydney in a great position to dominate the next ten minutes of play. At one point the Rabbitohs even managed to kart the ball 50 metres down field before being tackled.
At the 64th minute, Dylan Farrell was left motionless after collecting the knee of Andrew Everingham. Farrell was placed in a neck brace and eventually stretchered off the field when play was stopped minutes later. Five minutes later, a tackle bust and a brilliant ball from Billy Slater sent Justin O'Neill through a gap. Sisa Waqa was looming on O'Niell's inside, though he had enough strength to barge his way over to seal the match for Melbourne.
A penalty in the last minute of the game saw that Melbourne would win by a comfortable 26 points to 8.
Melbourne Storm 26 South Sydney Rabbitohs 8
Venue: Melbourne Rectangular Stadium
Halftime Score: Melbourne Storm 14-6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Cooper Cronk
2 points - Cameron Smith
1 point - Billy Slater
MELBOURNE STORM (26)
Tries: Will Chambers, Jesse Bromwich, Sisa Waqa, Justin O'Neill
Conversions: Cameron Smith (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (2/2)
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS (8)
Tries: Ben Te'o
Conversions: Adam Reynolds (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Adam Reynolds (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary