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The Melbourne Storm have defeated the New Zealand Warriors 4-2 at a rain-drenched Mt Smart Stadium today.
With nine regular first-graders sidelined through injury or Origin duties, the Storm put together an impressive defensive display and scored the only try of the match late in the second half.
The result sees the competition favourites maintain top position on the NRL ladder.
In a match played in greasy conditions, and dotted with numerous handling errors from both sides, the Warriors were able to take the lead with a penalty goal in the ninth minute through centre Tony Martin.
The Warriors had the chance to go further ahead when they were awarded a penalty in easy kicking range just before the half time break. Surprisingly, the home side opted to take the tap, and lost possession soonafter thereby passing up a handy four point lead.
The second half saw more possession go the way of the Warriors but the Storm defence held firm with hooker James Aubusson putting in a sterling display with over 50 tackles.
An effective kicking game from half back Cooper Cronk kept the visitors in the match, while new Melbourne recruit and second row forward Clint Newton was also a standout just wide of the ruck both in defence and with the ball in hand.
A try to lock Jeremy Smith in the 71st minute gave Melbourne a valuable 4-2 lead - which in the conditions proved to be a match winner.
Warriors skipper Ruben Wiki tried to rally his troops but in the end it wasn't enough, the Warriors crashing to their sixth successive loss and in danger of losing touch with the top eight.
New Zealand Warriors 2 Goals: Tony Martin (1/1) Melbourne Storm 4 Tries: Jeremy Smith Goals: Steve Turner (0/1)
Round 13 - Full Time :: June 10th, 2007 02:00 PM Venue: Mt Smart Stadium Crowd: 6,209 Referee: Ben Cummins Half time: Warriors 2-0
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Cooper Cronk (Storm) 2 Points: Ruben Wiki (Warriors) 1 Point: Clint Newton (Storm)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to Auckland. Weather a bit cold and a fresh easterly. There is some rain about. Competition leaders Melbourne Storm depleted due to Origin and injuries. Former Knight Clint Newton into the starting line up in the back row and half back Cooper Cronk is captain. The Warriors welcome back skipper Ruben Wiki into the forwards and Grant Rovelli into the halves. The much maligned Manu Vatuvei is back on the wing. Warriors kicking off... KICK OFF!
9 min: PENALTY GOAL New Zealand Warriors Warriors draw first blood after Newton is penalised for shoving in the play-the-ball. Centre Tony Martin slots the goal from just wide of the posts and well within range. New Zealand Warriors 2-0
15 min: Rain getting heavier.
21 min: Warriors pressing the line getting a repeat set now following a messy grubber into the in-goal.
23 min: Storm forced into a second line drop out but the Warriors unable to complete the set, the ball being passed into touch.
25 min: Tense moments when a Cooper Cronk bomb is successfuly diffused by Manu Vatuvei who gets a round of applause.
30 min: Half an hour gone we have match dotted with a few handling errors from both sides. Rain easing but still slippery conditions. A close tussle mainly being played in the middle of the park, but the Warriors having a little more field position and possession.
34 min: Again, the Warriors pressing and the Storm line holding but forced into consecutive line drop outs.
35 min: Warriors get a penalty right in front after a player is held back by a defender. They take the tap, amazingly passing up a gift two points. Warriors then lose possession. Great defence from the Storm.
Half time: Warriors 2-0 A real arm wrestle at times with the Warriors more dominant in the first half, throwing the ball around and quite entertaining albeit slightly disorganised. Unfortunately, they were unable to convert it into any four-pointers. The decision not to take the penalty goal in 35th minute was a little baffling considering the conditions and that points are hard to come by. The Storm looking very solid in defence with Cronk employing a long and high kicking game when they have the ball. Both sides guilty of handling errors in the greasy conditions. Anyone's game.
Second half underway...
45 min: ON REPORT Ben Cross (Storm) Injury to Warriors forward Epalahame Lauaki. Penalty against Storm forward Ben Cross and on report for a high shot.
48 min: INJURY Lock forward Micheal Luck (Warriors) seemingly concussed after a head clash with team mate Ruben Wiki. Luck gets up after a minute and seems OK to continue.
49 min: Penalties favouring Warriors 8-3 after Storm are again penalised for a tackle around the head. Referee Cummins calls out Captain Cronk and reads the riot act.
57 min: Storm denied a repeat set by a touchie report who picks up on a forward pass. More handling errors as both sides are firing up now.
67 min: Storm attacking and not far away, but dubious handling error call goes against them.
70 min: Melbourne have a scrum feed 10m out from the Warriors line.
71 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Lock forward Jeremy Smith barges over from close range and just 15 wide of the posts. Conversion attempt by Steve Turner unsuccessful. Melbourne Storm 4-2
75 min: 6,209 official attendance.
79 min: Warriors scrum feed 25m out from their own line.
FULL TIME: Storm win 4-2 A big defensive effort from the Storm who were without nine regular first graders. Warriors had their chances but have suffered their sixth successive loss. The stats favouring the Warriors including an 8-4 penalty count, a higher completion rate and 52% possession. The only stat not favouring the home being the final scoreline.