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AAMI Park hosted a top-of-the-table blockbuster which saw the Melbourne Storm do away with their closest competition, defeating the Brisbane Broncos 34-10.
Brisbane came in under-strength with only one of their origin stars backing up. There was still, however, plenty of fight left in the team that did take the field and refused to lay down.
The opening phases were all Brisbane, but the visitors let themselves down with failure to complete sets right at the Melbourne jugular. Brisbane soon asked their hosts to show them how it's done.
Melbourne proved gracious hosts and accepted the ball and field position on offer to show Brisbane how to complete a set with points, executing a set play to put Todd Lowrie in to open the scoring in the 8th minute.
Brisbane were grateful for the lesson and proved they had learned from it and were the next to put points on the board when they finally took an opportunity in the 21st minute and sent Jack Reed in to score.
The Storm, not wanting to be upstaged in their own home, tried to hit back immediately, but Cooper Cronk was denied by the video referee Steve Clark who after a thousand viewings decided he though Cronk was held up.
Determined to take the game away from the Broncos, Melbourne scored twice again before half time. Cronk with his put Lowrie in for his second before putting Will Chambers in with a perfect offload.
Gareth Widdop had Melbourne's goal kicking duties for the night and struck to from three in the first half to help Melbourne to a 16-6 half-time lead.
The second half commenced with a painful head collision which prematurely ended the match for Michael Greenfield. The man who caused the injury, Ben Te'o sustained an ankle injury minutes later, but the worst injury of the night was yet to come.
First points of the second forty came in the 45th minute to Billy Slater, Brisbane returned serve in the 52nd minute through Te'o, but with Melbourne ahead 22-10 it was to be an uphill struggle for the under-strength Broncos.
A wonderful kick return saw Billy Slater cross for his second in the 57th minute as Melbourne began to run away with the match. The game was all but beyond doubt when Justin O'Neill streaked 85 metres down the left touchline to score in the 61st minute.
The Brisbane Broncos, despite the huge deficit, continued to fight and refused to lay down. Their troubles weren't just the scoreboard, more numbers worked against them when they used up their interchanges with ten to go.
Matters got much worse in the 73rd minute when David Hala fell to the ground clutching at a knee. Trainers confirmed a dislocated knee which could see him spend an extended stint on the sideline.
Despite the agony of impending defeat and everything else that went wrong for the Brisbane side, they fought till the last minute to give some promising signs coming out of a painful game for the second placed side.
Melbourne on the other hand, were back to their winning ways, creating a bigger buffer between themselves and everyone else and showed why they're number one, and they also showed their determination to keep it that way.
Melbourne finished with a 34-10 victory to inflate their point differential to 199 and put them 3 wins ahead of their nearest rivals at least until next weekend.
Melbourne Storm 34 defeated Brisbane Broncos 10
National Rugby League - Round 12 - Friday May 25, 2012 7:30pm
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Tony Archer and Gerard Sutton
Video Referee: Steve Clark
Touch Judges: Russell Turner and Adam Reid
Halftime: Melbourne Storm 16 Brisbane Broncos 6
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Cooper Crink
2 Points - Todd Lowrie (2 Tries)
1 Point - Cameron Smith
MELBOURNE STORM (34)
Tries: Todd Lowrie (2), Billy Slater (2), Will Chambers, Justin O'Neill
Conversions: Cameron Smith (1/1), Gareth Widdop (4/5)
BRISBANE BRONCOS (10)
Tries: Ben Te'o, Jack Reed
Conversions: Corey Parker (1/2)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good Evening and welcome to AAMI Park for a top of the tables clash between the Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos. Brisbane come in missing their origin stars, whilst Melbourne are close to full strength.
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TEAM NEWS: Cameron Smith will start on the bench for the Storm, so Ryan Hinchcliffe will start in the hooker position and Rory Kostjasyn will replace him in the back row, joining him in the back row will be Ryan Hoffman in jumper 21 who replaces Bryan Norrie who is out. A couple of changes to the Broncos as well, Ben Hannant will back up from origin and will start in the front row in jumper 18, pushing McGuire to the bench, Mitchell Dodds is the man who loses he spot on the bench.
1 min: We are under way at AAMI.
3 min: The first error of the night come from the Broncos who make the mistake in real attacking position.
5 min: Brisbane are awarded a PENALTY in great attacking range.
6 min: Reed knocks on and Melbourne are let off the hook. Brisbane have had some wonderful field position early.
6 min: Melbourne are awarded a PENALTY to help them out of their half.
9 min: TRY
TRY to the Storm!
Some ball in the right end of the field coupled with a well executed set play do the trick for Melbourne who have first points to the name of Todd Lowrie. Gareth Widdop converts.
Melbourne Storm 6-0
13 min: Error from Brisbane who aren't doing themselves any favours with ball handling.
13 min: Melbourne return the favour off the back of the scrum handing the ball back to Brisbane cheaply.
15 min: Hinchcliffe intercepts a ball at the line, and whilst Brisbane are creating opportunities, they just can't seem to complete them.
15 min: Brisbane comound their error by conceding a PENALTY.
16 min: Another PENALTY to the Storm who are being gifted attacking position here.
20 min: A PENALTY goes the way of Brisbane and they are right on the attack 15 out.
20 min: 20 minutes gone and Brisbane have had the best of the play for the first quarter but have let themselves down with completions or lack thereof.
21 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Brisbane TRY.
22 min: TRY
TRY to the Broncos
Brisbane send it way out wide and Jack Rees is in! No defenders to contend with on the flank. The conversion attempt hits the upright and bounces in.
23 min: Brisbane error 30 out from their own line offers Melbourne an opportunity to hit back right away.
24 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Melbourne TRY.
24 min: NO TRY! After a thousand looks, Steve Clark has decided that Cronk was held up.
24 min: Melbourne earn a repeat set forcing Beale to play it dead for a line drop out.
25 min: Melbourne fail to complete a set in optimal attacking position.
27 min: Jaiman Lowe is PENALISED for some real stupidity in a tackle.
28 min: Brisbane receive another PENALTY, this comes 10 out.
28 min: Some expansive football being played by Brisbane, but the Melbourne defence are up to it.
31 min: Melbourne make a big line break and Slater has open space to the line but failed to get a clean grab of it and knocks on.
32 min: Brisbane create something, but this ends in a knock on also
33 min: Some real exciting football being played with both sides creating opportunities, butchering them too and Melbourne have butchered another but have succeeded in forcing a line drop out.
36 min: TRY
TRY to the Storm!
Todd Lowrie is in for his second off a smart little kick from Cronk, then does enough to ground it after a great chase. Widdop keeps the goal kicking duties with Smith now on the field and he again converts.
Melbourne Storm 12-6
38 min: Melbourne force another line drop out and they have been right at Brisbane's throats for a while now.
40 min: TRY
TRY to the Storm!
Excellent work from Cameron Smith in dummy half gets it onto Billy Slater to connect with Cooper Cronk who produces a perfect offload gets it out to Will Chambers to send him in to score. Widdop fails to convert this one.
Melbourne Storm 16-6
40 min: Brisbane gave themselves one last chance before half time but it did not come off and the half comes to a close with Melbourne leading Brisbane 16-6.
41 min: Second half under way.
41 min: Huge hit from Te'o on Greenfield and he loses it, Brisbane go right on the attack.
41 min: Greenfield is in Disneyland after a headclash with Te'o and he is helped off the field.
42 min: Melbourne knock the ball out and Brisbane have six again ten out.
43 min: Te'o is having some troubles too now and is being attended to by trainers.
47 min: TRY
TRY to the Storm!
Melbourne convert a good line break to produce an entertaining try to Billy Slater. Widdop adds the extras.
Melbourne Storm 22-6
49 min: Melbourne concede possession in their return set.
51 min: Some entertaining stuff from Brisbane who are refusing to say die and earn a repeat set, forcing a line drop out.
53 min: TRY
TRY to the Broncos
Brisbane send it out wide and a wonderful effort from Te'o in the corner gets the points. The try scorers haven't been making it easy for Parker who misses this one.
Melbourne Storm 22-10
54 min: A forward pass from Wallace at half way undoes some good work from the Broncos.
57 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Melbourne TRY.
58 min: TRY
TRY to the Storm!
Slater streaks away off a kick return, began and finished that play superbly to go in for his second of the night. Widdop converts.
Melbourne Storm 28-10
60 min: Cameron Smith executes a perfect kick that refused to go touch in goal from dummy half to force a line drop out.
60 min: Ryles undoes the work with a knock on.
63 min: TRY
TRY to the Storm!
Interception from Justin O'Neill about 15 from his own line, streaks down the sideline to the Brisbane line to SCORE. Widdop sneaks one in with the boot.
Melbourne Storm 34-10
69 min: Completion rates from both sides have continued to dive, the football, however, remains entertaining and Melbourne are driving home their advantage, whilst Brisbane refuse to lay down despite the deficit.
73 min: David Hala after a wonderful charge is down clutching at his knee and appears to be in all sorts of trouble. The stretcher comes out to carry him off the field.
73 min: Hala appears to have dislocated his kneecap and Brisbane are out of interchanges and will have to play the remainder of the match a with 12 men.
75 min: Desperation from the Broncos with 12 men. This depleted Broncos side has shown a lot of fight.
80 min: The full time hooter stops the completion rates getting any closer to 50%.
80 min: Melbourne have convincingly done away with the Broncos to finish with a 34-10 victory.