Storm withstand South Sydney surge

The Melbourne Storm has withstood a late South Sydney surge to hang on and register an entertaining 18-16 victory at AAMI Park this afternoon.

A very enthusiastic first half from both sides saw an entertaining contest underway from the opening minutes. Both sides started strongly, carting the ball forward and chancing their hands in attack, whilst muscling up in defence, making scoring difficult.

First points of the match came to the Rabbitohs in the 7th minute to five eighth Luke Capewell, who was put in to score by Merrit cleaning up some sloppy ball play from team mates. Chris Sandow failed to convert.

Melbourne claimed the lead just minutes later, with a terrific set piece which saw Finch get the ball on to Cronk who put Billy Slater in to score between the posts. Cameron Smith converted and Storm were up 6 - 4.

Both teams attacked really well but some errors and great defence prevented further points from being scored until Ryan Hichcliffe muscled over the Rabbitohs goal-line in the 26th minute, reaching out and planting the ball down over his head. Cameron Smith converted to give Melbourne Storm a 12 - 4 lead which they defended into half time.

Some enthusiastic football followed, both teams providing plenty of entertainment for what was a pretty lively Melbourne crowd, but the point scoring was done for the half with neither defensive line prepared to give a sniff of points before the halftime hooter.

After just two minutes of the second half, the Storm looked to be well on their way to an emphatic victory as Ryan Hinchcliffe took advantage of a Matt Duffie bat-back to score his second try of the afternoon and extend their lead to 14 points. Before today's encounter, Hinchcliffe hadn't scored a try this year. That would be the final amount of joy the Storm would get as the Rabbitohs surged back into the contest. Souths winger Nathan Merritt scored a double of his own in the space of seven minutes. His first came on the end of a brilliant set-play where the ball swung from the left hand side of the field to the right. Fullback Rhys Wesser delivered the pass to centre Dylan Farrell, who flick-passed to Merritt, who beat the scrambling Melbourne defence to score out wide.

Merritt was again in the action several minutes later when he was the beneficiary of a Benefit Of The Doubt try, after replays suggested he may have planted the ball on the try-line, despite Storm fullback Billy Slater's best attempts to roll him onto his back. Video referee Phil Cooley had several looks at the replay, before flashing up the green light. The final play of the match saw Rabbitohs winger Fetuli Talanoa tip-toeing along the eastern touchline, but his attempted kick back in-field sailed dribbled into the in-goal, before Slater kicked the ball over the deadball line to secure the victory.

Next week, the Storm tackle the Sharks at AAMI Park next Saturday night, while the Rabbitohs will have to dust themselves off before they travel to CUA Stadium on Friday night to take on the Panthers.

Match Details
Melbourne Storm 18 defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 16
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 23 - Sunday August 15, 2010 2:00pm
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Chris James and Steve Lyons
Video Referee: Phil Cooley
Touch Judges: Grant Atkins and Luke Potter
Crowd: 9,172
Halftime: Melbourne Storm 12 South Sydney Rabbitohs 4 players of the match:
3 Points - Ryan Hinchcliffe (2 Tries)
2 Points - Billy Slater (1 Try)
1 Point - Cooper Cronk

Melbourne Storm (18)
Tries: Billy Slater, Ryan Hinchcliffe (2)
Conversions: Cameron Smith (3/3)

South Sydney Rabbitohs (16)
Tries: Nathan Merritt (2), Luke Capewell
Conversions: Chris Sandow (2/3) Live Commentary Hello and welcome to AAMI Park Melbourne, for this Round 23 Clash between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Melbourne Storm. A very high scoring under 20s match this afternoon was taken out by the Rabbitohs, who scored four tries in the last 13 minutes to take the game 46 – 42. That match saw 15 tries scored between the two sides.
TEAM NEWS: A few changes for both sides. For Souths Beau Champion is out, he will be replaced in the cenres by Dylan Farrell with Jamie Simpson coming onto the bench. For the Storm, Adam Blair and Jeff Lima are out, so Lowrie and Proctor com in from the extended bench, and Proctor will start the match with Sika Manu starting on the bench.
AAMI Park observing a minute silence before kickoff in memory of trooper Jason Brown.
1 min: Melbourne Storm kick off from the Southern end and we are under way.
4 min: Solid start from both sides, both carting the ball forward well and completing their sets
7 min: TRY
TRY to the Rabbitohs. This one off the back of some sloppy play, but Merrit cleaned up, took it down the sideline before putting Capewell in to score. Conversion by Sandow unsuccessful.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 4-0
10 min: A bit of back and forth football, not a lot happening from either side since the Capewell try.
13 min: TRY
TRY to the Storm. Terrific set piece by Melbourne, Finch to Cronk down the middle who puts Slater in under the posts. Conversion from Cameron Smith successful.
Melbourne Storm 6-4
16 min: Some intention from both sides, more attacking play, but both sides muscling up in defence.
18 min: South Sydney knock on from a line drop out. Greg Inglis looked ready to streak 60 metres to score, but the whistle was blown for the knock on.
20 min: Melbourne getting some back to back sets here, attacking beautifully and really testing this South Sydney defence.
21 min: Hoffman drops what would have been a certain try, to halt the Melbourne seige of South Sydney's line.
24 min: South Sydney give Melbourne another repeat shot at their line, with an error followed by a stripping penalty.
26 min: TRY
Melbourne Storm TRY to Ryan Hinchcliffe who muscles over and puts a beautiful try down over his head. Conversion by Cameron Smith Successful.
Melbourne Storm 12-4
29 min: Melbourne Storm playing with real enthusiasm here, wonderful turn around from their effort last round.
32 min: Errors creeping in to both sides at this stage, but both teams really chancing their hands, making for some entertaining football.
35 min: This Melbourne crowd is really getting into the game too, yet to see the crowd figure, but it is a very lively lot who are making a lot of noise.
Video Referee for what was not a try, but they are probably looking to see how th play is to restart.
38 min: No try, turnover, ruled to be knocked on in goal.
40 min: A very entertaining first half comes to an anti-climactic close.
40 min: Chris Sandow gets us underway in the second half.
40 min: PENALTY Storm. Former Melbourne player Mick Crocker concedes the penalty for being over zealous in the tackle and catching Norrie around the neck.
42 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Ryan Hinchcliffe. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
The Storm open the scoring already in the second half! Cronk's pin-point kick is batted back by Duffie and into the arms of Hinchcliffe who, before today, hadn't scored a try this year, now has two.
Melbourne Storm 18-4
44 min: The rain is back here at AAMI Park, which will make the Rabbitohs task even more difficult as they chase points to get themselves into the top eight.
45 min: The rain is now torrential, as the Rabbitohs work the ball downfield, as Inglis is slow to his feet in back play.
47 min: A perfectly weighted kick from Cronk has forced a goal-line dropout. Merritt picked up the ball, but then looked up to see plenty of purple jumpers chasing.
48 min: Sandow has knocked the ball on as he picked up a pass thrown back on the inside by Hoffman, but was hit immediately and the slippery ball spilled free.
49 min: Finch dribbles a kick into the in-goal which is batted dead by Merritt. The Storm will have their fifth successive set of six here and will be hard to hold out.
50 min: Fortunately for the Rabbitohs, Proctor has knocked the ball on and Souths breathe a sigh of relief.
52 min: PENALTY Rabbitohs. Slater penalised for tackling Sandow without the ball as he raced through to pick up a Cronk chip-kick.
56 min: PENALTY Rabbitohs. Storm penalised for laying in the ruck too long.
57 min: Goal-line dropout Storm. Nielsen gets his hand to a Sandow grubber kick just in time to knock the ball over the deadball line.
58 min: PENALTY Rabbitohs. Inglis ruled to have stripped the ball in a two-man tackle.
59 min: The Rabbitohs ask some questions of the Storm defence, but the Storm held firm and turned the Rabbits away.
61 min: Knock-on Storm. Smith fails to get a grip on the slippery ball.
63 min: Sandow chip-kicks into the in-goal and Finch throws the ball over the dead-ball line.
64 min: TRY
TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Scored by Nathan Merritt. Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow successful.
Nathan Merritt scores the Rabbitohs second try of the afternoon to keep them alive! The ball went to the right hand side, where Wesser passed to Farrell, who drew two Melbourne defenders, before passing back on the inside to Merritt, who dived underneath the scrambling Melbourne defence to cut the deficit to single-digits.
Melbourne Storm 18-10
68 min: Forward pass Rabbitohs. Luke's pass to Burgess is ruled to have gone forward. Perhaps an unlucky call against Souths.
70 min: Knock on Storm. Inglis is ruled to have lost the ball into the Rabbitohs defence.
71 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Rabbitohs try. Checking grounding.
71 min: TRY
TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Scored by Nathan Merritt. Conversion attempt by Chris Sandow successful.
The Rabbitohs are definitely alive and kicking this afternoon! Merritt has gotten a "Benefit Of The Doubt" try after the video referee ruled that he could not tell definitively if the ball was on the try-line or not. Can the Rabbitohs do it two weeks in a row!
Melbourne Storm 18-16
74 min: PENALTY Storm. Souths ruled to have jumped the gun on the 10-metres.
77 min: Souths will have to go 90 metres to score here, or force an error from the Storm in the next few minutes.
78 min: Nielsen claims Sandow's bomb as the Storm look to hang on for the final two minutes.
80 min: PENALTY Rabbitohs. Two-man strip.
80 min: Melbourne hang on after Souths throw the ball around after the siren, but Talanoa's kick is out on the full.

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