Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
27 hours ago
The Wests Tigers have handed the Melbourne Storm only their second defeat of 2012, with a 10-6 victory over the competition leaders in front of 11,274 fans at Aami Park this evening.
After a tryless first half from both sides, the Tigers returned from the break firing- scoring back tries in the opening 10 minutes of the half to claim the lead.
The Tigers were on the front foot from the opening minutes of the match, claiming the lead in only the seventh minute of the match after Benji Marshall nailed a penalty goal from right in front. However, while the visitors appeared to dominate possession and field position over the next passage of play, the Melbourne defence was able to hold them out.
With both sides only failing to complete one set in the opening 40, the teams were forced to rely on penalties against their opponents and their own ability to break the line for try scoring opportunities.
It was clear the Storm were missing their Origin stars as the half progressed, while their defence was practically impenetrable in the first half, their attack was lacking the flair the Storm are famous for producing.
Garreth Widdop finally got the home side on the scoreboard on half-time, levelling the scores with a penalty.
Two quick tries to the Tigers straight after the break gave them all the momentum in the second half. Lote Tuqiri crosses first, claiming the first try of the match in the 43rd minute on the back of a penalty before Matt Utai scored his four-pointer four minutes later. Marshall failed to convert both tries.
After being provided with several opportunities to hit back, Dane Nielsen scored the Storm first try of the match in the 70th minute, however, Widdop missed the conversion, leaving Melbourne trailing by four.
In the final two minutes of the match the Storm were given an opportunity to steal the match after receiving a scrum 40 out from the try line but a poor kick on the fourth tackle saw the chance go begging.
Tonight's victory marks the Tigers seventh consecutive win, they host the Sydney Roosters next week at Leichardt.
For the Storm, they head to Brookvale next weekend to take on the defending premiers.
Melbourne Storm 6 were defeated by Wests Tigers 10
National Rugby League - Round 14 - Friday June 8, 2012 7:30pm
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Shayne Hayne and Gerard Sutton
Video Referee: Russell Smith
Touch Judges: Jeff Younis and Adam Reid
Crowd: 11, 274
Halftime: Melbourne Storm 2 Wests Tigers 2
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Beau Ryan
2 Points - Anthony Quinn
1 Point - Curtis Sironen
MELBOURNE STORM (6)
Tries: Dane Nielsen
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (0/1)
Penalty Goals: Gareth Widdop (1/1)
WESTS TIGERS (10)
Tries: Matthew Utai, Lote Tuqiri
Conversions: Benji Marshall (0/2)
Penalty Goals: Benji Marshall (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Good evening folks and welcome to AAMI Park where the competition leaders, the Melbourne Storm take on the Wests Tigers.
Both sides will be without their State of Origin stars for the match up, for the home side that means no Billy Slater, Cameron Smith or Cooper Cronk for tonight's clash, while the Tigers will just be missing hooker Robbie Farah.
The Storm will also be without Will Chambers, who will be out of action for an indefinite amount of time after as he undergoes treatment for an auto-immune illness he was diagnosed with earlier this week and Michael Greenfield. Sika Manu and Brian Norrie come into the side, while Anthony Quinn shifts from the back row into the centres.
Tonight is a special occasion for the Melbourne Storm and their coach Craig Bellamy who coaches his 250th first grade game. Bellamy has the best win percentage of any coach with 68.7 per cent.
The Tigers have announced no late changes.
Breaking News: Tim Moltzen has been injured in the warm up. Beau Ryan moves to fullback with Blake Ayshord shifting from the bench and into the centres. Joel Reddy joins the bench.
1 min: The game is under way, the Tigers will get the ball first.
3 min: The Storm are on halfway on tackle three.
4 min: Garreth Widdop puts up a towering bomb on the last but there's no chasers to put pressure on Ryan.
4 min: Benji Marshall kicks a 40/20 on tackle three.
7 min: PENALTY GOAL
The Tigers receive a penalty on four and opt to go for the two.
Wests Tigers 2-0
9 min: Tigers are on the attack again after a break by Tuqiri.
10 min: Matt Duffie loses the ball centre metres out from his own goal line, Marshal picks up the loose ball and the Melbourne cover defence tackle him into the corner post, however, the ref rules there was no advantage.
11 min: Quinn diffuses a Marshall bomb in-goal and the Storm are off the hook.
12 min: Tigers will get a scrum 40 out from their own line after a Melbourne player is ruled to have knocked on diving on a loose ball.
14 min: Kurtis Sironen forces a line drop out.
15 min: Storm will get a scrum 40 out from their own line after a Tigers' knock on.
20 min: Tigers are 10 out on the last after a break from Sironen.
20 min: Fulton is forced to kick on the last and it bounces straight into the arms of Jason Ryles who is a few metres out from his try line.
24 min: The Storm receive their first penalty 20 out from their own line.
26 min: Ryan Hoffman is tackled with the ball on the last and Tigers are off the hook.
28 min: The Tigers receive a penalty a few metres out from their own line after the Melbourne defence is ruled to have stayed on the tackled player too long.
31 min: Tigers will get a scrum 10 out from the Melbourne line after a Duffie knock on.
32 min: The Storm are off the hook after Tuqiri loses the ball.
38 min: The Storm receive a penalty 40 out from their own line.
39 min: The Storm will receive a line dropout after Ryan is forced back in goal after cleaning up a Widdop kick a metre out from his own try line.
40 min: PENALTY GOAL
The Storm receive a penalty as the half-time hooter sounds and they opt to take the two and Widdop adds the extras to level the score going into the break.
Wests Tigers 2-2
40 min: Marshall kicks off to bring us under way in the second half.
42 min: The Tigers receive a penalty and will start a set 30 out from the Storm line.
43 min: Tuqiri might have a try here.
45 min: TRY
TRY! Marshall draws in two defenders before spreading it out wide to Tuqiri takes Duffie with him over the tryline to score. Marshall misses the conversion.
Wests Tigers 6-2
46 min: Justin O'Neill knocks on 20 metres out from his own line.
49 min: TRY
The Melbourne defence is caught napping and Matthew Utai goes straight throughscores. Marshall fails to convert from right in front.
Wests Tigers 10-2
50 min: The Storm receive a penalty and will get a free ride up the field.
51 min: Widdop goes to the air from 15 out on the last and Tuqiri fumbles it.
52 min: The Tigers survive.
57 min: The Tigers receive a penalty and will start their set on halfway.
58 min: Masafa Iosefa puts a grubber through to the in-goal on the last but he puts a little too much on it.
60 min: Quinn spills the ball 10 out from his own line.
61 min: The Storm are off the hook after Iosefa throws a forward pass 10 out from the Storm tryline.
64 min: The Storm will get a scrum 10 out from the Tigers' line after Ryan is forced to tap a Widdop kick over the side line.
66 min: Luke Kelly forces a line drop out and the Storm will get another attacking opportunity.
67 min: Ryan saves the day for the Tigers.
69 min: Widdop attempts a chip and chase and Blair is forced to kick the ball dead.
70 min: Possible try to Dane Nielson for the Storm here.
72 min: TRY
TRY! Marshall rushes up in defence leaving a gap in the defence for Nielsen to slice through and take three defenders with him over the tryline. Widdop fails to convert from a few metres out from the sideline.
Wests Tigers 10-6
74 min: The Storm receive a penalty a few metres out from their own line.
75 min: Possible try to Maurice Blair for the Storm.
75 min: NO TRY, 20 metres tap! Replays revealed O'Neill's leg was on the dead ball line when he batted the ball back in the in goal.
76 min: Tigers are on the attack again after a break by Tuqiri
77 min: Storm are off the hook.
79 min: Storm get a tackle count restart 40 out from the Tigers' line.
80 min: Adam Kelley goes for a kick on the fourth and it bounces straight into the arms of Adam Blair who saves the day for the Tigers.
80 min: The Tigers ruck it out as the full-time siren sounds. The Wests Tigers hang on to hand the Storm only their second loss of the 2012 season.