FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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Melbourne Storm 24 v St George Illawarra Dragons 10
at Olympic Park Melbourne
Referees: Tony Archer
The Melbourne Storm have sent the St George Illawarra Dragons packing with a comprehensive 24-12 victory at a rain-drenched Olympic Park tonight. With fullback Greg Inglis in tremendous form, the home side came back from a 4-0 deficit to run in four tries.
The turning point of the match came late in the first half following two tries to winger Jake Webster. With the scores locked up at 4-all, Webster swooped onto a loose ball, running 80 metres to score under the posts. Then on the stroke of half time, Inglis combined with half back Cooper Cronk to send Webster in again.
At half time, Melbourne held a handy 14-4 lead.
The Dragons resumed the second half without Mathew Head, the star half back reportedly aggravating a knee injury which had kept him out for most of last season. With little direction, the visitors compounded their woes with fundamental errors while conceding a number of penalties.
Referee Tony Archer issued several warnings and placed representative prop Luke Bailey on report for a high and late tackle. The resulting penalty goal giving the Storm a 16-4 lead.
Archer finally lost patience, sending Dragons forward Justin Poore to the sin bin in the 64th minute, the boot of hooker Cameron Smith extending Melbourne's lead to 18-4.
Down to 12 men, the Dragons were unable to hold Melbourne out with forward Ian Donnelly scoring after a kick from Matt Geyer, putting the match beyond doubt.
Dragons' winger Reece Simmonds scored a consolation try following a classy backline movement in the 74th minute. But by then, the match had been won and lost.
Melbourne Storm: 24
Tries: Ian Donnelly, Steve Turner, Jake Webster(2)
Goals: Cameron Smith 4/6
St George Illawarra Dragons: 10
Tries: Colin Best, Reece Simmonds
Goals: Aaron Gorrell 1/1, Mathew Head 0/1
By the Clock:
Very cold in Melbourne. Players still in the sheds, kickoff only a matter of minutes away...
A few line up changes but Greg Inglis is running on for the Storm and Mathew Head is running on for the Dragons.
Storm kicking off and we're underway in the first half....
1 min: NEWS Huge bust down the left flank with Gasnier and Cooper combining for the Dragons. They come very close before Inglis is on the spot to snatch a fortunate intercept. Cooper attacks the same side a minute later and again Saints come close with Creagh heading for the corner, but again Inglis saves the day, this time with a covering tackle.
9 min: NEWS Mat Head HELD UP as the Dragons are on the attack from close range.
15 min: NEWS Still 0-0 with the game being played mainly in Melbourne's half.
Possible try to Dragons - video ref checking....
18 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Colin Best does well to score in the corner after being met by a wall of cover defence. Follows weight of possession and field position in Dragons favour.
Head unsuccessful with conversion attempt. Rain now falling at Olympic Park.
22 min: NEWS Storm HELD UP over the line on the last tackle.
25 min: NEWS Matt King comes within a whisker of scoring for the Storm. Stopped by some desperate cover defence. Storm getting some more ball now and looking good with it.
27 min: Possible Storm try - video ref checking....
28 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
REF'S CALL and Steve Turner is awarded the try after some conjecture over the challenge for the ball. Follows cross-field kick from Cronk. Conversion attempt from Storm is waved away.
35 min: Possible Storm try - video ref checking...
NO TRY - Cameron Smith penalised for pushing a defender (Dean Young) out of the way. Follows a neat chip from Cooper Cronk but no dice in the end.
37 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Jake Webster runs 80m to score under the posts after a kick charge-down from Cooper Cronk. Smith converts and the Storm hit the front just before the break.
40 min: Possible Storm try - video ref checking....
40 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Webster gets a double following a clever chip kick from Cronk from half way. Inglis regathers and then finds Webster in support. Survives video ref scrutiny over possible offside.
Smith conversion attempt 9m in from touch is unsuccessful.
A killer blow to the Dragons and the Storm extend their lead in the rain.
Half time: Storm 14-4
A couple of late tries has seen the Storm take control of the match. The stats are pretty even now after Saints had the bulk of possession early on. A physical match being played in slippery conditions leading to a number of knock-ons and a few high shots.
Storm looking the goods with a handy 10-point lead and should be able to go on with it. But Saints are far from out of it and if they hang onto the ball, may have a few tries in them.
Second half underway and the rain is still bucketing down.
41 min: NEWS Dragons halfback Mat Head has not returned to the field. News is that he has aggravated his knee injury and unlikely to take any further part.
44 min: NEWS Storm come close after fullback Inglis attacks the left flank only to thwarted by a dusty offload which went to ground.
49 min: Possible Storm try - video ref looking....
NO TRY - Matt Geyer denied. Knock on ruled against David Kidwell who attempted a pass along the ground, and Saints have the ball.
55 min: NEWS Still 14-4 in favour of the home side.
ON REPORT - Luke Bailey for late and high shot, and it may cost him a green-and-gold jumper.
57 min: PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm
Smith slots the goal from right in front. Follows another penalty against Bailey for pushing Smith who was a support player.
64 min: NEWS SIN BIN - Justin Poore sent off for 10 minutes after the ref ruled a late tackle on Cooper Cronk. It has been coming for a while but a bit of a dodgy decision. Cronk comes from the field.
65 min: PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm
From right in front Smith adds the points from the penalty.
69 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Ian Donnelly scores after a kick from Matt Geyer. Puts the contest beyond doubt. Smith converts from almost in front.
74 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Simmonds scores in the corner after Saints put it through the hands and gain the overlap. Aaron Gorrell converts from out wide and in tricky conditions.
Full time: Storm 24-10
Melbourne post a comprehensive victory over a lacklustre Dragons outfit.
The Dragons were unable to maintain the early momentum as possession in the end went the way of the Storm.
Best on the park was Storm fullback Greg Inglis who defended well when it counted and was electric in attack as his half back Cooper Cronk directed proceedings. He was ably supported by winger Jake Webster while hooker Cameron Smith, backrower David Kidwell and Michael Crocker all played well in a winning pack.
For Saints, not too much to write home about. Losing Mathew Head at half time didn?t help their cause but apart an opening foray, they never looked like winning. A number of players tried hard but they looked underdone, possibly from having played the previous Tuesday. But they were outplayed and frustrated into making too many errors and have some work to do.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Greg Inglis (Storm)
2 - Cooper Cronk (Storm)
1 - Cameron Smith (Storm)