Storm sink beleaguered Bulldogs

The Melbourne Storm have withstood a second-half onslaught at AAMI Park today to record a 23-12 victory over Canterbury-Bankstown in front of over 12,000 supporters.

The Storm started in fanciful fashion, opening the Bulldogs up left, right and centre - tries through Chase Stanley, Luke MacDougall and Dane Nielsen pushing the side to a 16-0 lead early, with Brett Finch keeping the Storm's charity partners in mind by potting a field goal on the half-hour mark to push the home side to a 17-point lead. Errors and penalties all over the park, plus a landslide of missed tackles and a bit of bad luck cruelled the Bulldogs as they conceded points across the field.

Another try before the break crushed the 'Dogs, Gareth Widdop making easy meat of the defenders in the middle of the park. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs weren't giving up, and the momentum swung completely the other way in the second half. Andrew Ryan crossed on 47 minutes and the complexion of the game changed immediately. The Bulldogs dominated possession throughout the second stanza but ultimately lacked the finishing touches to have the Storm worried. A couple of dubious decisions by video referee Chris Ward left the visitors stumped but ultimately Canterbury's lack of execution cost them any chance of victory, along with some steely defence from the Storm.

The Bulldogs will take some heart out of the fact they were able to keep the Storm scoreless in the second half and rack up 12 of their own points, however they will need to improve dramatically to challenge the Wests Tigers, whom they defeated just 7 weeks ago, on Friday night at ANZ Stadium. Melbourne will also feature on Friday night's double header, travelling to Parramatta Stadium for the Grand Final rematch, where they're expected to receive a frosty reception from the locals.

Match Details
Melbourne Storm 23 defeated Canterbury Bulldogs 12
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 12 - Sunday May 30, 2010 2:00pm
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Shayne Hayne and Ashley Klein
Video Referee: Chris Ward
Touch Judges: Ricky McFarlane and Phil Haines
Crowd: 12420
Halftime: Melbourne Storm 23 Canterbury Bulldogs 0

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Dane Nielsen (1 Try)
2 Points - Brett Finch (1 Field Goal)
1 Point - Luke Patten

MELBOURNE STORM (23)
Tries: Luke MacDougall, Chase Stanley, Dane Nielsen, Gareth Widdop
Field Goals: Brett Finch (1/1)
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (3/4)

CANTERBURY BULLDOGS (12)
Tries: Andrew Ryan, Brett Kimmorley
Conversions: Bryson Goodwin (2/2)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary AAMI Park hosts its second NRL game, and for the Storm it's their first for the remainder of 2010 where they will support charity, with various amounts per type of points scored donated as the Storm continue to play spoiler over the remaining half othe season.
Changes for both sides - the three changes for the home side are all Origin-induced, with Brett White, Billy Slater and Greg Inglis all ruled out. They will be replaced by Sika Manu, Gareth Widdop and Chase Stanley respectively, with Aiden Tolman coming back from injury early to fill Manu's vacant interchange spot.
The Canterbury side, with those changes to the Storm, would probably fancy their chances - even more so with their lineup changes. Rookie backrower Jake Foster and livewire Ben Barba may be out, but in their places Joel Romelo plays his second game for the Bulldogs, while Maroons prop Ben Hannant is back - and not a moment too soon for the 'Dogs to attempt to turn their season around.
In the earlier Toyota Cup clash, the Canterbury-Bankstown club were victorious by a thumping 46-16 over the Storm. After racing to an early 18-0 lead, they were never really challenged, taking a 12 point lead to halftime before running riot in the second half.
Conditions reasonably cold and overcast but no rain to speak of yet at AAMI Park. The blue-and-whites take the field in this battle between the 2002 and 2010 Cap rorting sides, now the purple of the Storm joins them on the park.
1 min: Fireworks cleared from the in-goal... and we're underway, with Canterbury taking up first possession.
2 min: Both teams complete their first sets, Melbourne's fifth tackle option is a Cooper Cronk bomb, but Patten is safe as houses underneath it and Canterbury will work the ball out of their own end.
5 min: Hinchcliffe lucky not to be penalised for obstructing Josh Morris chasing Cronk before the Storm half got the kick away. First penalty of the afternoon now goes Melbourne's way with David Stagg not square at marker. Storm will have the first attacking set of the game here.
5 min: Another penalty to the Storm, 'Dogs hooker Michael Ennis getting messy in the tackle.
7 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Dane Nielsen. Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.
Some extremely worrying defence on the Idris/Turner wing sees Nielsen score the easiest of tries as the Storm go down the short side. Widdop converts and it's 6-0 to the home side.
Melbourne Storm 6-0
9 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Chase Stanley. Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop unsuccessful.
Chase Stanley easily steps the 'Dogs defenders as Finch works the right-side, and it's an easy try. Widdop's conversion goes wide so it's ten points the difference.
Melbourne Storm 10-0
12 min: A drop-ball from Melbourne gives Canterbury their first attacking chance today.
13 min: The Bulldogs get a penalty after Kimmorley is interfered with kicking on the fifth. Another chance to score. Hannant looks ginger in the background after a big hit by MacDougall in the previous set.
14 min: Warburton drops the ball, basic errors killing this Bulldogs side, as they have been all year.
16 min: Hannant comes off, the 'Dogs fifth tackle play is a soft run down the left and Josh Morris is tackled with the ball, handover. This could be a long afternoon for the boys from Belmore.
17 min: Warburton concedes a penalty on the fifth tackle as the Storm move into the Bulldogs danger zone again.
18 min: Lucky break for the 'Dogs, Nielsen throwing a forward ball out wide with a certain try looming for Matt Duffie. Bulldogs scrum.
20 min: Sideline reports indicate Hannant's knee is okay and that he's simply lacking match fitness. Idris here putting a big hit on but the ball is offloaded and the Storm break down the left edge. Fifth tackle now, the kick goes up and the Bulldogs field it, pass it, but a knock-on is ruled. Drop-out.
23 min: Cronk bombs on the fifth from the 40m line, it comes down on the 20 and bounces, with Warburton eventually taking a simple catch. Canterbury amazingly have missed 17 tackles so far this game... a shocking statistic inside the first half-hour.
25 min: Hannant comes back on. Goodwin comes back with a good kick return, the 'Dogs looking to fight back from inside their own half here. Stagg makes a small break, but the attack for the visitors is very flat. The fifth tackle option is a cross-field chip from Blake Green and it's easily fielded in-goal by Nielsen. Hopeless.
28 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Luke MacDougall. Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.
The Storm run out of options on the fifth so they run the ball, it goes to the right and MacDougall chips for himself... Morris cleans up, no he doesn't! MacDougall picks up the scraps to score a soft, soft try.
Melbourne Storm 16-0
30 min: The Bulldogs finally apply some pressure, forcing a repeat set with Josh Morris cornering Gareth Widdop in-goal. Dropout.
31 min: No luck for Canterbury... the ball bounces on its point from the drop-out and ends up in Ryan Hoffman's arms. Nothing going right for the visitors.
32 min: FIELD GOAL
FIELD GOAL Melbourne Storm
Field goal attempt by Brett Finch successful.
Brett Finch adds to the Storm's charity tally, figures it's a good time for practice too.
Melbourne Storm 17-0
35 min: Another penalty to the Storm and they could make this look ugly as they look to attack again.
37 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Gareth Widdop. Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.
Gareth Widdop goes up the middle easy as you like. This Bulldogs side is absolutely terrible. Widdop converts his own and the Storm will likely go to the sheds with the score at 23-0.
Melbourne Storm 23-0
39 min: Comical stuff here, the Bulldogs kick it out on the full but Cronk muffs the penalty kick from halfway - it doesn't go out. The Bulldogs will finally get a shot at the Storm line here.
40 min: A penalty to the 'Dogs with seconds left - Kimmorley puts up a "hail mary" to Goodwin's wing but MacDougall's got it covered and the rather daunting siren sounds in the background.
HALFTIME at AAMI Park and its hard to tell if the Storm are on fire or the Canterbury-Bankstown side are just playing really, really bad football. Poor execution, ill-discipline, invisible defence are all words that come to mind, while the Storm have been able to run hard and play freely. It's a long long road back for Canterbury, who in this form don't look like they've got the strikepower to do much, let alone win a match.
41 min: The boot of Michael Ennis sees play resume for the second half. Melbourne Storm with first use of the ball.
42 min: Some positive footy from the Bulldogs to get themselves into good field position but Blake Green grubbers on tackle four and it goes dead.
43 min: Melbourne through a Dane Nielsen line break find their way up the other end of the park however Cronk's chip into the in-goal is fielded cheekily by Bryson Goodwin.
45 min: A mistake from the Storm gives Canterbury a shot now...
47 min: TRY
TRY Canterbury Bulldogs
Scored by Andrew Ryan. Conversion attempt by Bryson Goodwin successful.
A short ball on tackle five finds Andrew Ryan - a hint of an obstruction but the try is awarded without video consultation. The blue-and-whites finally cross the line and with Goodwin converting they close the gap to 17.
Melbourne Storm 23-6
48 min: Idris breaks down the right sideline and the 'Dogs are on fire all of a sudden! Gives it to Turner, pulled down. They spread it, Green goes close... now wide on the 3rd - Gordon has crossed... or has he? VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Bulldogs try...
48 min: NO TRY awarded, held up. Bulldogs tackle three. Play on.
49 min: Fifth tackle chip into the ingoal from Kimmorley is fielded on the full by Finch. 20m restart.
50 min: Chase Stanley's knee is giving him grief - Sika Manu comes on to replace him. The Storm have lost it on halfway, Bulldogs scrum. They'll need to score again to build momentum here.
51 min: Penalty to Canterbury as the Storm defenders pick Josh Morris up and drag him five metres over the sideline. Momentum had stopped, penalty to the visitors. No matter though, they've dropped it through Ennis on tackle two.
53 min: Another dud fifth tackle option for Canterbury gives the Storm back the ball on their own line. Melbourne struggling to get out of their own half, but get a penalty to help them out of trouble here.
55 min: The Storm get within earshot of the tryline but Ryan Tandy can't hold it, and spills it over the line. Bulldogs scrum 10m out.
56 min: A double change for Canterbury, Tim Browne and Joel Romelo on the field to add some legs as they give Michael Ennis a rest after playing 135 minutes of footy since Wednesday night.
60 min: Jamal Idris comes in off his side of the field and forces a forward pass out of Finch inside the Storm half. The 'Dogs need to score here if they're going to challenge the hosts.
61 min: Hodgson delivers a shocking pass and the two Bulldogs halves collide trying to get to it, knocking the ball on. That's probably their last realistic shot as we're inside the 20 minutes remaining mark.
63 min: A Kimmorley grubber down the touchline is touched by Widdop's knee before bouncing out. Bulldogs scrum in front of the Storm line.
64 min: VIDEO REFEREE for a possible Bulldogs try, Blake Green looks confident he got it down. Question over the control and contact on the ball.
65 min: NO TRY - Green denied... a poor decision as he never lost contact with the ball. Unlucky for the Bulldogs.
67 min: Kimmorley with a good little grubber to Goodwin's wing, MacDougall pushes a very lucky pass to Widdop who comes out of the ingoal. The Storm should have this in the bag now.
69 min: Morris breaks down the left edge but he's tackled well and then offloads to Goodwin who muffs it and the Storm have the ball. All this on tackle two - the 'Dogs just don't have the finishing touches today. Penalty Storm on the back of it but they can't find the tryline themselves and the 'Dogs will work it away.
70 min: Josh Morris loses the ball, effectively killing off any last chances the Bulldogs may have had.
71 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible try to the Storm... but it's come forward of Widdop. NO TRY. Bulldogs 20m restart.
72 min: Finch lucky to get away with a blatant knock-on as he scrapes up an attempted Bulldogs offload. The Storm will attack again here.
74 min: TRY
TRY Canterbury Bulldogs
Scored by Brett Kimmorley. Conversion attempt by Bryson Goodwin successful.
A break from Warburton who gets it to Patten, the General is dragged down short but they spread it to Kimmorley who tries a chip, it bounces back into his arms off a Storm hand and it's a try to the visitors. Goodwin converts to close the gap to eleven points.
Melbourne Storm 23-12
76 min: VIDEO REFEREE - possible Bulldogs try to Bryson Goodwin... looks like he might've gone out first though.
76 min: His foot's hit the ground outside the field of play, their last throw of the dice comes up with snake eyes. NO TRY, Storm handover 10m out.
78 min: Kimmorley puts the ball into touch on tackle four, the Storm will take the victory but not the two points here, while Canterbury's season continues to slide into disrepair, despite some positive footy being played in this second half.
80 min: An enterprising finish from the 'Dogs as Goodwin and Morris try combining down the left but a kick ahead from the former finds Cronk who is bundled into touch. That's the game.
FULLTIME at AAMI Park where it's truly been a tale of two halves, the Melbourne Storm dominating for the first forty before the Canterbury Bulldogs put together a strong second forty - though not enough in the end as the home side held on for a 23-12 victory.

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