Storm's miracle combination shines over Titans

The Melbourne Storm have crafted a late, second-half masterclass to defeat the Gold Coast Titans 30-6 at Skilled Park, in front of 11,254 fans.

It was a perfect and typical Melbourne Storm start to the game, as a pinpoint Cooper Cronk's kick sent Matt Duffie over in the corner. Cameron Smith failed to convert, leaving the Storm up by 4 after two minutes of play.

After that, much of the first half was under the control of the Gold Coast. Melbourne were their own worst enemy, coming up with several uncharacteristic mistakes. Numerous try opportunities for the Titans went begging, however they were unable to convert any of their posession and field position into points.

The teams went to the half time break with the Storm leading the Titans 4-0.

The second half started off similar to the way the first half ended, with the Titans controlling play and getting strong returns from the Storm's kicks. However 11 minutes into the second half, the Melbourne side cracked the Titan's defensive line, with  Sika Manu powering over the line to to bring up the second four-pointer for the Storm. Smith's kick wobbled over the crossbar, and took the Storm to a 10-0 lead.

It was all downhill from there for the Gold Coast Titans.

Simple moves well executed are often best, and the Storm were evidence of that fact tonight. Capitalising on a Titan's error, Duffie was again the beneficiary of a simple, run-around scrum play, adding his second try for the night. Smith's difficult touchline conversion again failed to have the right angle, so the score remained at 14-0.

In the 60th minute, the Titans finally crossed the Storm tryline. The Titans used their passing game to full effect, sending Steve Michaels over out wide from a scrum play. The Gold Coast finally had some points on the board, but the Storm still led 14-6.

Whilst the home fans remained optimistic that a comeback was possible, the Storm stuck strong and raced in three further tries. Cooper Cronk, Smith, and Billy Slater combined to send Billy Slater over the line without a hand on him, to take the score to 18-6.

Billy Slater was again involved five minutes later, with a piece of trademarked Slater brilliance. Slater swooped on a grounded ball, picked it up one handed, and grounded it just before the dead ball line. The Video Ref got to exercise his button-pushing finger, and the big green light gave Melbourne another try.  Cameron Smith converted, and the game was well and truly out of reach for the Titans, with the Storm up 24-6 with less than ten minutes remaining.

With his second try, Slater took the mantle for most tries scored by and fullback in the game's history.

The Storm added insult to injury a few minutes later, with a solo performance from Anthony Quinn closing out the match. In a valiant attempt to upstage Slater's try, Quinn kicked for himself right near the try line, chased through, regathered and scored. Cameron Smith nailed the conversion to put the final nail in the coffin of the Titans, with the final score ending up Melbourne Storm 30, Gold Coast Titans 6.

The Titan's inability to score points hurt them tonight. They were always going to struggle after being unable to cross the Storm's line in the first half, and the Melbourne side made them pay for it late in the second half. After their loss tonight, the Titans will travel across the Tasman to face the Warriors in what will almost certainly be a bruising encounter, while the Storm head home to host the Sydney Roosters.

Match Details
Gold Coast Titans 6 were defeated by Melbourne Storm 30
National Rugby League - Round 3 - Saturday March 17, 2012 5:30pm
Venue: Skilled Park
Referee: Jason Robinson and Gavin Reynolds
Video Referee: Tim Mander
Touch Judges: Ricky McFarlane and Michael Wise
Crowd: 11,254
Halftime: Gold Coast Titans 0 Melbourne Storm 4

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Billy Slater (2 Tries)
2 Points - Cameron Smith
1 Point - Cooper Cronk

GOLD COAST TITANS (6)
Tries: Steve Michaels
Conversions: Scott Prince (1/1)

MELBOURNE STORM (30)
Tries: Billy Slater (2), Anthony Quinn, Sika Manu, Matt Duffie (2)
Conversions: Cameron Smith (3/6)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Join the conversation - follow LeagueUnlimited on Twitter and tweet about the match using the Official Hashtag = #NRLgldmel.

You can also discuss the match with thousands of other fans in our Game Day Forums - click here. Welcome League lovers to Super Saturday. Our first match tonight is coming to you live from Skilled Park on the Gold Coast.

The home side the Titans open their gates and host the Melbourne Storm. The visitor will enter this contest looking for their third win of the season, whilst the Titans are searching for their second lot of competition points.

Earlier in Under 20's Toyota Cup action, the visitors the Storm held out a 1 point victory defeating the Titans 27-26.

TEAM CHANGES:

Titans: Jamal Idris is out injured with a Hamstring issue which occurred in lost weeks loss to the Raiders. As a result Bodene Thompson gets a start in 19. A positional change for Kayne Lawton who swaps out with Matt Srama who will start as hooker.

Storm: A precautionary change with Dane Nielsen ruled out and Maurice Blair named as his replacement. Like the Titans, a positional change sees Sika Manu move to the bench to add impact later in the match as Kevin Proctor gets a starting role.

We are not long until kick off here at Skilled Park. The Storm will be confident heading in.
Minutes away from starting here at Skilled Park as the rain has became to set in.
Both sides are out, the Gold Coast Titans are wearing orange socks to promote Harmony Day.
1 min: We are underway with the Titans getting the first set.
1 min: Great kick chase from the Titans to start here as the trap Billy Slater deep in his half.
1 min: First penalty to the Storm to the Titans committing too much in the tackle. They will attack well in the Titans half.
2 min: TRY
TRY! Storm
The Storm off to a great start with the ball spreading it wide to the sideline. Cooper Cronk pin-point accurate with his kick to the corner. Matt Duffie flying through and planting it inside the corner.
Melbourne Storm 4-0
4 min: A big mistake from the Storm as they fail to catch the kick restart. The ball hitting the crossbar didn't help. As a result the Titans will get a set in the Storm half from a drop out.
5 min: Video Referee Decision pending for the Titans.
5 min: KNOCK ON! Video Referee rules a knock on against Jordan Rankin. Melbourne Storm with the ball on their 10 metre line.
7 min: The titans getting some help from the officials with a penalty to march them up field. Storm defence will need to hold not to let them get points as they attack from the Storm 40 metre line.
8 min: Ashley Harrison coming close again in the Titans set but failed to find the points. Signs not overly bad from the Gold Coast as they challenged the Storm line. Last play option not the best as Scott Prince dropped it to give the Storm the ball on their 10.
10 min: The Melbourne Storm giving the ball straight to the Titans as the wingers were hoping for a Ryan Hoffman ball but it was intercepted by the Titans. Scott Prince will play the ball on halfway.
11 min: Cam Smith ends the set with a stabbing kick downfield deep in the Titans half. End to end stuff last few minutes. The Titans are a man short with Jordan Rankin down in back play, but should be okay.
13 min: Last play for the Storm and a failed bomb went high and short up. The ball allowed to bounce before it was shifted out wide to the right hoping for a runner but collected by the Titans.
15 min: Matt Srama with a great kick low downfield towards the Storm goal line. Billy Slater able to get a hand to it before met by Titans chasers.
16 min: Penalty for the Storm to help them out of their half as Luke Bailey held too long in the tackle. They attack just on halfway for their set.
17 min: The Titans are showing some good signs in defence to force the error of the Storm. Pressure applied
18 min: Time off has been called here as Nate Myles is down on the 20 metre line. He is showing concern for his knee. Currently with the trainer.
18 min: Play back underway with Nate Myles back on his feet and rejoins the defensive line with the Storm on the attack well in the half.
18 min: Justin O'Neill lost the ball in a big tackle to give the Titans the zero tackle. First hit up with Bailey who goes out the back with a cut on his face. Titans with the ball on their own 30 metre line.
19 min: Bodene Thompson has been great in defence as he charged out of the line to stop the attack of the Storm.
20 min: A poor kick from the Storm as Greg Bird was up in the face of Cooper Cronk which only went 20 metres. The Titans have a chance inside the Storm half with a full set.
20 min: Scott Prince trying a play with a kick down to the corner, but rolling dead over the touchline. As a result a scrum packs for the Storm on their own 10 metre line.
22 min: Penalty to the Storm on the last tackle, not a good move from the Titans. They had been good defensively to hold them out but the Storm with a chance again to add points outside the 20 metre line.
22 min: KNOCK ON! Vave running onto the ball looking for a hole in the Titans goal line defensive. Titans escape the raid.
25 min: An early kick from Cam Smith downfield on the 3rd tackle from his 40 metre line. Titans forced to work it from their 20 metre line as a result of the controlling play from the skipper.
26 min: Kick from Scott Prince had too much and bounced over the dead ball line. Storm with a 20 metre restart.
27 min: Penalty to the Titans as Dominique Peyroux was collected in a high tackle as the arm contacted from Maurice Blair. The Gold Coast march up to the 40 metre line with their set.
28 min: Scott Prince ending a good set from the Titans as the grubber kick was forced over the dead ball line by Hoffman. As a result the Titans get a repeat set from a goal line drop out.
30 min: Penalty to the Titans on the Storm goal line as the defence took the player to ground after the held call came. Quick tap taken.
30 min: Another penalty quickly for the Storm.
30 min: Another penalty quickly for the Storm.
30 min: That is three penalties against the Storm in three plays. Scott Prince coming face to face with Widdop. An issue building between them, Titans however with another full set on the Storm line.
31 min: Video Referee Decision pending for the Titans. Possible Try to Matt White.
32 min: Man upstairs spins the red lights. Matt White ruled offside from the Srama grubber kick. Storm get the penalty which will help them get off their line.
34 min: KNOCK ON! Melbourne are struggling in this match as Billy Slater trying for a quick play of the ball and Duffie baseball sliding in and losing it in the wet conditions. Titans with a chance to finally get on the board as they have been the better side.
35 min: Gold coast looking for the quick play of the ball and losing it after the big hit from O'Neill. Zero tackle for the Storm deep in their half.
37 min: The Titans playing with passion tonight with Matt White starting the play to break through the line and pop the offload. The kick into the goals kick beating Scott Prince who flew through looking for points and it was kicked dead by Widdop. Storm with a goal line drop out
37 min: The Titans playing with passion tonight with Matt White starting the play to break through the line and pop the offload. The kick into the goals kick beating Scott Prince who flew through looking for points and it was kicked dead by Widdop. Storm with a goal line drop out
38 min: Titans looking to spread it wide to the wing but the pass deemed forward and the Storm pack a scrum on their 20 metre line.
37 min: The Titans playing with passion tonight with Matt White starting the play to break through the line and pop the offload. The kick into the goals kick beating Scott Prince who flew through looking for points and it was kicked dead by Widdop. Storm with a goal line drop out
37 min: The Titans playing with passion tonight with Matt White starting the play to break through the line and pop the offload. The kick into the goals kick beating Scott Prince who flew through looking for points and it was kicked dead by Widdop. Storm with a goal line drop out
40 min: Half time siren sounds at Skilled Park and Cam Smith stabs the ball over the sideline to close the half.
The opening 40 minutes saw a passionate and urgently Gold Coast contest the Melbourne Storm and winning. Despite the first and only points coming in the 3rd minute the visitors have not been on top of their game. The field position has been dominated by the home side who deserve and should have a few tries on the scoreboard. However that is credit to the Storm defence and a few costly errors from the Titans.

If the Titans don't get early points the Storm will hold onto this victory, and also the Titans fans will get free entry to their clash against the Bulldogs in Round 5.

The conditions not helping either side which as seen some poor ball handles in the contest. The home side need to come out firing in the second 40 minutes and shock the Storm and they will and can win. Still anyone's game for the taking.
40 min: Both sides out and ready for the second 40 minutes. The rain continues to fall heavily here at Skilled Park. The Gold Coast Titans getting us underway through the boot of William Zillman.
41 min: The Titans off to a great start with a fast return of the ball from the kick of the Storm. They play their first set of the second half on their 40 metre line.
41 min: Matt Duffie certainly knows how to handle the high ball as he brought the kick down for the Storm.
42 min: Wonderful scrambling defence from the Titans to stop Justin O'Neill from scoring as Zillman wrapped him up one-on-one before the goal line.
44 min: The Titans employing a tactic to get the Storm to start their sets from a 20 metre restart as the ball went dead.
44 min: A call from the touch judge sees the Storm pinged for a forward pass. A questionable call against the visitors, but regardless the Titans have a scrum feed on the Storm 30 metre line.
46 min: The Titans had a few chances to scores firstly with Greg Bird pushing through the line but collected by Siku Manu with a great hit. Secondly Jordan Rankin placed a grubber kick through the line and was forced dead by Matt Duffie. The Titans have a repeat set on the Storm line from a drop out.
47 min: Ben Ridge giving up the ball to the Storm on their line which sees the tackle count start at zero for the purple pride. They will work it out from their 10 metre line.
49 min: Rankin with a massive kick downfield and it was collected by Slater who stepped and accelerated into the Titans line.
49 min: Penalty to the Storm to aid their cause for more points. Greg Bird ruled inside the 10 metres. Chance for the Melbourne side 20 metres from the Titans line.
51 min: TRY
TRY! Storm
The Gold Coast have been on top but the pressure released as Sika Manu on the end of a short Cronk pass. He slides through the line to collect the Storm 2nd. Cam Smith converts with a wobbly kick.
Melbourne Storm 10-0
54 min: TRY
TRY! Storm
From the scrum base from a Titans error. The classic run around play from Melbourne see Matt Duffie simply run in the Storm second try in minutes. Smith from the touchline failed to cross the bar.
Melbourne Storm 14-0
57 min: Penalty to the Titans against Bryan Norrie as the referees enforce the downtown rule. Titans kicking for touch.
57 min: Penalty to the Titans against Bryan Norrie as the referees enforce the downtown rule. Titans kicking for touch.
59 min: KNOCK ON! Scrum to pack for the Titans with a big chance on the Storm line.
60 min: TRY
TRY! Titans
From the scrum base the Titans spread it wide to the open side and going through many hands to then find Steve Michael on the wing to finally score. Scott Prince converts from the sideline.
Melbourne Storm 14-6
63 min: Penalty to the Storm as the held call came on the tackle on Duffie. Storm will kick for touch from under the posts.
65 min: TRY
TRY! Storm
The big three link again to craft another beauty. Billy Slater on the inside of a lovely pass. Slater's speed takes him to the line without a hand on him. Cam Smith failed to convert again.
Melbourne Storm 18-6
67 min: KNOCK ON! Storm not holding the ball after their points to now gift an opportunity to the Titans. Scrum packed down the Storm 20 metre line.
68 min: Matt Duffie can't be beaten under the high ball as he leapt high in the air to catch it and bring it down. As a result a 20 metre tap comes for the Storm.
69 min: Luke Bailey putting pressure on Widdop with the kick. The ball allowed to bounce but Steve Michael knocks on. Storm get the set inside the Titans 20 metre line. Big chance to close the game.
71 min: TRY
TRY! Storm
A miracle play from the champion fullback sees the video referee spin up the green light. Billy Slater running through and picking the ball up one-handed and grounding it just before the dead ball line. Cam Smith converts.
Melbourne Storm 24-6
74 min: TRY
TRY!
Just no stopping the Storm late in this clash. Anthony Quinn trying to upstage Slater with is own amazing try as he kicked for himself on the goal line and stepping through to plant it. Smith managing to sail the ball over to convert.
Melbourne Storm 30-6
77 min: Penalty to the Titans, Scott Prince opting for the touchline finder. This game is all but done.
79 min: KNOCK ON! Storm losing control in the ruck. Titans will get a scrum feed just before the siren.
79 min: KNOCK ON! Storm losing control in the ruck. Titans will get a scrum feed just before the siren.
80 min: Full time as the siren sounds here at Skilled Park. The Storm have gone on a late second half raid to out class the Gold Coast Titans 30-6.

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