Storm steal epic encounter

A frantic play after the final siren has delivered the Melbourne Storm a 28-24 victory over the Dragons at AAMI Park tonight in front of 13,130 fans.

Ahead 24-22 with just one set left to defend, the Dragons looked to have the game in the bag with a covering tackle on their defensive right side. The siren sounded as the Storm got up to play the ball, but play went on. Cooper Cronk pushed a cross-field kick to the opposite wing, where it was tapped back and found its way eventually to Tohu Harris, who identified an overlap on the left. The ball made it's way out to Young Tonumaipea who scored a miraculous try in the corner.

The Dragons were the stronger starters of the two sides, scoring the opener down the left through Dylan Farrell before the Storm replied with two tries of their own to Jesse Bromwich and Will Chambers to grab a 10-4 lead. The Dragons then levelled scores against the run of play with five minutes to play before halftime, Brett Morris clamouring over the defenders after a spilled bomb to score yet another try.

Halftime loomed large as scores were locked at 10-all but the Dragons were able to take the lead going into the break with Chambers putting a risky shoulder charge on Josh Dugan, and Gareth Widdop converting the subsequent attempt at penalty goal.

The Dragons steamed ahead in the second half with Gerard Beale scoring off a sensational team-try scenario kicked off by a Josh Dugan break. A reshuffled backline due to an earlier injury to Farrell continued to rally for the visitors and this continued to cause problems for the Storm, as did Widdop's kicking game. This was most telling with the Dragons' final try, where Widdop launched a high ball and Slater again made the error. Dugan who was adjudged to be *just* onside by the video referee, picked up the scraps and found Trent Merrin who helped extend the Dragons lead.

The visitors' resolve was then tested for the last 20 minutes - the Storm took control of the contest and worked their way back to 24-22 with two momentum-backed tries through Chambers and Cronk. The Dragons held out as long as they could... but the Storm managed to push home with that controversial final minute four-pointer. Smith converted to make it a 28-24 win.

The heartbroken Dragons now go home to Kogarah for the first time this season to host the Warriors on Saturday evening, while the Storm will be happy to have picked up two points ahead of a Sunday afternoon trip to GIO Stadium where they face Canberra.


Match Details
Melbourne Storm 28 St. George Illawarra Dragons 24
Venue: AAMI Park
Crowd: 13130
Halftime Score: Melbourne Storm 10 St. George Illawarra Dragons 12

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Gareth Widdop
2 points - Cooper Cronk
1 point - Josh Dugan

MELBOURNE STORM (28)
Tries: Jesse Bromwich, Will Chambers (2), Cooper Cronk, Young Tonumaipea
Conversions: Cameron Smith (4/5)

ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (24)
Tries: Dylan Farrell, Brett Morris, Gerard Beale, Trent Merrin
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Gareth Widdop (1/1)


LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary

TEAM NEWS | Dragons move Leeson Ah Mau into the starting lineup, with Dan Hunt dropping to the bench. Kyle Stanley, Adam Quinlan and Josh Ailaomai drop out. Will Matthews takes the remaining place on the bench. For Melbourne, Ben Roberts replaces Ben Hampton at five-eighth.

Welcome to our coverage of Monday night football. Big night for both sides here in Melbourne - the Storm are staring down the barrel of three straight losses after starting the season with three straight wins, an alarming form slump since defeating Newcastle in Round 3. The Dragons are in the same conundrum, two losses following three early wins. Earlier tonight, the Under 20's Storm outfit ended the Dragons' unbeaten run 24-8.

1: We are UNDERWAY in Monday night football at AAMI Park. Melbourne have the ball first - they wear their navy and purple, while the Dragons are in their predominantly red away jersey and shorts.

3: Early penalty for the visitors, attack doesn't work out for the Dragons though and Melbourne will work it out.

4: UNFORCED ERROR MELBOURNE STORM
Ben Roberts makes an unforced error.

Roberts back in first grade and there's an error. Dragons feed 30m out.

5: Another penalty for the Dragons, count already 2-0. Attacking right on the Melbourne line.

6: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Dylan Farrell. Kick to come.

They go wide late in the set and it's a TRY! Dylan Farrell gets it down... no video ref required!

7: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop unsuccessful.

Widdop fails to convert the Farrell try.

10: Storm looking likely but Dragons get the penalty just as Melbourne had good field position.

11: Storm's first penalty comes on their own line after the Dragons were ruled offside chasing through a kick.

12: And another penalty halfway through that set. Now Storm with the ball 30m out from the Dragons line.

13: And there's another, now just 10m out! Penalty count went from 0-3 to 3-3 within two minutes... Storm keep attacking.

14: Good defence from the Dragons and the last tackle kick trickles dead. Saints 20m restart.

15: Dragons attack breaks down, forward pass ruled.

16: Possible Storm TRY to Jesse Bromwich, we're checking upstairs. Lots of hands in the contest.

16: TRY MELBOURNE STORM
Scored by Jesse Bromwich. Kick to come.

Contest is ruled okay, Jesse Bromwich takes the pass from Young Tonumaipea after the contest saw the ball spill out the back and crashes over untouched.

17: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION MELBOURNE STORM
Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.

Conversion is good, Storm now lead!

19: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Josh Dugan makes an unforced error.

Dugan spills his lollies in front of his own goalline. Storm scrum and they'll attack 10m out!

21: Storm denied a try to Kevin Proctor with Cooper Cronk delivering a marginal forward pass on the 10m line.

22: Storm penalty to bring them out of their own end. Set to start five short of halfway.

23: Promising Storm attack breaks down on the left side, Dragons get it and now get a penalty as well. 8 penalties awarded in the first 23 minutes.

25: Dragons looking to slow the game down, their last two sets have seen Widdop find touch deep in Storm territory to force a scrum.

28: UNFORCED ERROR MELBOURNE STORM
Ryan Hoffman makes an unforced error.

Hoffman with a loose carry and the impact of the tackle forces the ball free. Dragons feed the scrum on their own 30m.

29: Penalty nine of the evening, Dragons with an odd in-field kick and the chasing tacklers are ruled offside. Storm start things on the 40m.

30: High ball puts pressure on the Dragons at the back, it's forced dead by the visitors and as a result it's a line drop-out.

31: VIDEO REFEREE possible Storm TRY to Will Chambers. Dugan's spilled it. Can't see why this wouldn't be awarded...

31: TRY MELBOURNE STORM
Scored by Will Chambers. Kick to come.

Too easy for the Storm, Slater grubbers through, Dugan goes to ground to claim it but it's bounced above him slightly, he fumbles and Chambers takes the ball for an easy try.

32: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION MELBOURNE STORM
Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful.

Cam Smith has pushed it wide.

34: Dugan's been trapped in goal on the Storm's return set there. He's not impressed by the drop-out is ruled.

35: UNFORCED ERROR MELBOURNE STORM
Ryan Hoffman makes an unforced error.

Hoffman with his second error of the night, tries popping an offload and it's dropped.

36: VIDEO REFEREE possible Dragons TRY to Brett Morris. Billy Slater's spilled it, checking the aerial contest.

36: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Brett Morris. Kick to come.

The try is awarded, accidental offside prior to the play not an issue. Brett Morris gets through several defenders to get it down.

36: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Scores level!

39: Storm go wide as they get loser to the line, but the will go back to the Dragons after an error. Dylan Farrell is now off injured.

40: PENALTY Dragons - Josh Dugan's been hit by a shoulder charge from Will Chambers.

40: Dugan with the physio prodding and grabbing his face, possible cheekbone injury? Will Chambers is ON REPORT.

40: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Penalty goal attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

The penalty results in a shot on goal 32m out, Widdop has no problem adding the two points giving, yes, the DRAGONS the lead at halftime!

HALFTIME in Monday Night Football - the Dragons have staved off a determined Storm to clinch a 12-10 lead at the break. Well and truly an open contest.

41: Teams back on the park and we are GO for the second half, with Saints 12 leading Storm 10.

42: Injury Update from halftime - Dylan Farrell's issue appears to be the pectoral muscle. Not returning tonight.

44: Nightingale takes a last tackle bomb in-goal, 20m restart.

45: Slater does the same at the other end, albeit not in goal.

47: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Gerard Beale. Kick to come.

That's an absolute SPECIAL from the Dragons! Gerard Beale is on the end of an outstanding few plays - Dugan makes a huge break, they find Thompson inside who's tackled. They spread it to the other wing, Nightingale finds Beale, who puts it out to Morris, back in to Beale... TRY TIME!

48: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

And a great sideline conversion puts the Dragons eight in front.

49: Everything going the Red-and-White's way, Hoffman penalised for a strip. Dragons new set starts just inside the Storm half.

51: Nightingale grubbers down the touchline on the last but it goes touch in-goal. Storm 20m restart.

53: Storm ball goes over the sideline just as they looked promising in attack.

53: VIDEO REFEREE possible TRY to Trent Merrin. Checking whether Josh Dugan is onside... it's touch and go here.

53: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Trent Merrin. Kick to come.

The TRY is awarded. Dugan not clearly offside enough for the video referee to overturn. "Insufficient evidence". Widdop had put the ball high, the Storm couldn't handle it, Dugan got it and sent it over to Merrin who crashed over.

54: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Widdop makes the margin fourteen.

58: Storm with a handy penalty giving them the territorial advantage. Attack time for the hosts...

58: Gareth Widdop of all players fields the Storm's last tackle cross-field kick. Dragons out of trouble for now.

61: UNFORCED ERROR MELBOURNE STORM
Billy Slater makes an unforced error.

Billy Slater is ruled to have gotten a finger tip on a Cooper Cronk outside ball before Tonumaipea picks it up. That's a knock on in the ref's book.

Crowd announced as 13,130

63: Dragons forced into a line drop-out after a sideways grubber has Gerard Beale falling over backwards in-goal.

65: Penalty Storm, another set. Dragons defending stoically...

66: Ben Roberts runs it wide on the last, he's tackled. Dragons handover.

66: INJURY - Joel Thompson is down injured. Nothing illegal there it's play on. He'll have a concussion test, Dragons will play on.

67: Storm playing some good footy, making plenty of metres coming out of their own end... now on the attack 3 tackles into this set.

68: TRY MELBOURNE STORM
Scored by Will Chambers. Kick to come.

Great outside ball finds Chambers, and this game just keeps producing outstanding tries! Cronk's throw was outstanding!

69: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION MELBOURNE STORM
Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.

The captain converts to reduce the margin and put Dragons fans back on the edge of their seats.

71: VIDEO REFEREE possible TRY to Cooper Cronk for the Storm - checking obstruction. Ben Roberts set that up!

71: TRY MELBOURNE STORM
Scored by Cooper Cronk. Kick to come.

That's a four pointer for the Melbourne Storm's number seven and now we have a finish on our hands!

72: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION MELBOURNE STORM
Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.

Smith no mistake from in front and the margin is back to TWO!

73: Ben Creagh chases through a Gareth Widdop bomb, he takes it... but Chambers steals it! Storm now surge up-field.

73: Last tackle for the Storm, they're inside the Dragons' half... a high ball, Dugan fields it in-goal, 20m restart.

74: Dragons take full advantage and get the ball to the Storm goalline, but the last tackle kick goes to the Storm. They start on tackle one on their own line.

75: Ben Roberts with a break now, the Storm have two tackles left and they're on the attack!

76: Storm last tackle kick dribbles dead, Dugan watched it go. Now stalling tactics as they come back for the 20m restart attract the derision of the pro-Melbourne crowd.

77: Forward pass ruled against Will Matthews as he looked for Bronson Harrison. Storm scrum on their own 30m.

78: Storm run it on the last... O'NEILL! AT THE LINE! NO! He's short!!! Handover Dragons.

78: UNFORCED ERROR ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Jason Nightingale makes an unforced error.

Dragons error through Jason Nightingale. "Flossy" reckons it's been stripped but the scrum will pack....

79: UNFORCED ERROR MELBOURNE STORM
Billy Slater makes an unforced error.

SLATER SPILLS IT! Scrum packs for the Dragons on their own 10m.

80: Great set from the Dragons, they make halfway on the last. Ordinary touchfinder means Storm scrum about 15 short of halfway with 50 seconds left.

80: Storm deep on the attack....

80: TRY MELBOURNE STORM
Scored by Young Tonumaipea. Kick to come.

Tonumaipea SCORES ON THE SIREN. WHAT AN AMAZING TRY. AMAZING FINISH!

80: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION MELBOURNE STORM
Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.

Smith converts the matchwinning try. Dragons players inconsolable on the field, that was an INCREDIBLE finish!

That was insane. The ball went everywhere on that final play and Tonumaipea scored in the corner. There's some discussion about the final play, the clock had elapsed when the ball was played - but the referee is the sole judge of time and play went on. Full credit to both sides - an outstanding game. FULLTIME.

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