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St George Illawarra Dragons 24 v Melbourne Storm 34
at Oki Jubilee Stadium Kogarah
Referee: Sean Hampstead
The Melbourne Storm have prevailed over the St George Illawarra Dragons 34-24 in an enthralling encounter at OKI Jubilee Stadium this afternoon. The Storm led 16-12 at half time.
The Dragons opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a penalty goal to Matt Head after the Storm were penalised for a grapple tackle. The Storm responded almost instantly with a try to Matt King. Colin Best let a bomb bounce and the ball was recovered by Steve Turner who threw a pass behind his back as he was headed across the sideline, and King touched down out wide. The Storm increased their lead only three minutes later with a try to Ryan Hoffman after some very nice ball movement created the overlap on the left side.
The score remained 12-2 until the half hour mark when some Matt Cooper magic got the Dragons back into the game. Head kicked ahead, Cooper picked the ball up and scored in the tackle of Billy Slater. Four minutes later the scores were level with Mark Gasnier taking a Head bomb and scoring out wide. Unfortunately for the Dragons, Ashton Sims knocked on from the set right after the try, and the Storm made the Dragons pay with Steve Turner scoring in the corner on what turned out to be the last play of the half.
The early period of the second half was frenetic, with Greg Inglis showing his brilliance with a 60 metre try from dummy half. Five minutes later the Dragons responded with a Brett Morris try off another perfect Matt Head kick. The Storm scored a rather fortunate try only minutes later after a pass to Hoffman hit him in the chest. He kicked the ball ahead once, recovered it and two passes later Matt King was in for a 26-16 lead.
Billy Slater was sin binned for a professional foul four minutes later, and the Dragons took advantage of it with Trent Barrett scoring out wide several minutes later. The Dragons moved to within two points with another Matt Cooper try again inspired by a Matt Head kick. He chipped, Gasnier recovered and threw a huge pass to Cooper who was in out wide. The Dragons went very close to scoring again, but on the next set the Storm went nearly 100 metres, and kicked a penalty goal for a 28-24 lead.
The Storm then knocked on off the restart, and the Dragons had two consecutive sets camped right on the line, but Gasnier knocked on reaching out to score. Billy Slater then inspired the final try for the Storm, breaking out of his own end to put the Melbourne side hot on attack, and a few plays later Cooper Cronk scored in the corner to put the icing on the cake.
An amazing game that should really buoy the hopes of the Storm, while the Dragons can feel unlucky, poor goal kicking had them trailing late in the game when they could in fact have been leading. The Storm stay six points clear at the top of the table and are on track for the Minor Premiership. Next week the Dragons will face the resurgent Eels on Friday, and will be looking to arrest the three game losing streak, while the Storm face off against the Tigers in Melbourne.
St George Illawarra Dragons: 24
Tries: Trent Barrett, Matt Cooper(2), Mark Gasnier, Brett Morris
Goals: Aaron Gorrell 1/5, Mathew Head 1/1
Melbourne Storm: 34
Tries: Cooper Cronk, Ryan Hoffman, Greg Inglis, Matt King(2), Steve Turner
Goals: Cameron Smith 5/7
By the Clock:
Good afternoon from Kogarah. We have a blockbuster 1 vs 4 clash this afternoon, the Dragons host the Storm. Last week the Storm handled the Sharks well, winning 28-12, while the Dragons were hammered 31-12 by the Raiders.
For the Storm, Webster and Kidwell are out. Inglis and Crocker will start with Crossman coming onto the bench. Creagh and Bickerstaff start for Wicks and Bailey who drop to the bench.
1 min: The Dragons kick off!
2 min: Creagh loses the ball on halfway after making a nice run.
3 min: The Storm get the first attacking chance, Barrett defuses a chip kick from the Cronk under the posts.
5 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons
Dallas Johnson is penalised for a grapple tackle. Head lands the goal from just over 30 metres out.
8 min: VIDEO REF - For a Storm try...
8 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Cronk puts up a bomb, Best lets it land and the ball comes to Turner who throws a great no-look pass to King before going over the sideline, and King scores right by the corner post. Smiths conversion is a beauty.
11 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Some great ball movement from the Storm creates an overlap, Kaufusi comes up with the final offload that puts Hoffman in on the left side of the field. Worrying signs for the Dragons. Smith converts.
12 min: INJURY - Greg Inglis has been taken to the sheds with a badly dislocated finger.
14 min: Melbourne currently have over 70% of possession.
17 min: Hill loses the ball just short of halfway.
18 min: Crocker loses the ball just over halfway, and the Dragons get a penalty.
19 min: Storm hold out an enterprising Dragons attacking raid.
22 min: The Storm pressure Head on the last, he goes down the shortside and King knocks the ball down saving a certain try.
22 min: Head bats a pass on that is intercepted by Geyer.
29 min: HELD UP - Cooper is held up brilliantly by the Storm
31 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Head kicks ahead for Cooper, he picks it up and scores out wide in the tackle of Slater. Gorrell hits the posts.
33 min: INJURY - Brent White (Storm) in the sheds with a shoulder injury.
35 min: VIDEO REF - For a Dragons try...
35 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
A breakaway set from the Dragons inspired by a Cooper break, a cross field kick goes to Gasnier who juggles the ball and dots dwon out wide. Gorrell ties the match up with the conversion.
37 min: Sims loses the ball just 20 out from the Dragons line.
38 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Quick ball movement from the Storm has Steve Turner scoring in the corner. Fantastic attacking play, the Dragons will rue the Sims mistake. Smith just misses from touch.
HALFTIME: A very entertaining 40 minutes passes very quickly. The Dragons will be furious for allowing the Turner try on the last play of the half.
40 min: The second half is underway.
44 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Inglis makes a break from dummy half and races 60 metres to score out wide. Smith hits the uprights.
49 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Head puts in a chip kick for Morris, he takes it on the full and scores in the corner. Gorrell misses, but the Dragons are back.
51 min: NEWS VIDEO REF - For a Storm try...
51 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
The ball comes off Hoffmans chest, he comes up with the ball and a few passes later Matt King dots down near the posts. Smith converts.
55 min: SIN BIN - A kick is charged down, and Slater is sin binned for a professional foul.
56 min: Barrett throws the ball over the sideline on a poorly timed shortside play.
58 min: The Dragons run the ball on the last tackle, Cooper makes a break and the Dragons look certain to score, but Hoffman and Inglis drag Gorrell down inches short of the line.
59 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Best comes up with a fantastic offload to Barrett who is in space and runs away from Inglis to score five metres in from touch. Gorrell misses the conversion.
65 min: Slater returns to the field just after Cronk puts a kick out on the full.
66 min: King comes up with the ball from a Barrett pass that wasn't far off the mark, another great defensive play.
69 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons
Head chips ahead, Gasnier recovers and throws a huge pass to Cooper who scores in the corner. Gorrell misses again.
73 min: The Dragons very nearly score off more broken field play and kicks.
75 min: PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm
The Dragons are penalised for offside on a great attacking set for the Storm. Smith adds the two points from almost right in front.
75 min: The Storm lose the ball on tackle one 10 out.
77 min: Gasnier knocks on going for the line. The Storm hold out two consecutive sets.
80 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
A 100 metre set from the Storm has Cooper Cronk going over in the corner. Smith rubs salt into the wounds with the touchline conversion.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Cameron Smith
2 - Cooper Cronk
1 - Matt Cooper