Wests Tigers 30 v Melbourne Storm 28
In what ultimately has been a bizarre game, the Wests Tigers have held out a late charge from Melbourne to win by just two points, 30-28.
The Tigers dominated the match from the early exchanges, holding possession for much of the first half, taking an 18-4 lead to the break. The only factor working against the Tigers was the goalkicking of Brett Hodgson, who finished with just 1 from 7 attempts.
A hat-trick from Daniel Fitzhenry put the result beyond doubt and after starting the second half with 3 unanswered tries, the Tigers looked to have the Storm put away. But with 15 minutes left, Slater scored two quick tries and the Tigers looked weary.
The Tigers managed to hold it together and keep a 14-point lead together until there was just two minutes left. Successive tries to Cronk and Hoffman just before the bell brought the Victorian club to within two points of a worn-out Tigers outfit.
Nonetheless, the form the boys from the West displayed for the most part of the game bodes well for them going into Friday night's Grand Final Replay against the Cowboys. The Storm will have a week off in Round 5 with the bye, before travelling to South Australia for a clash with Penrith.
Wests Tigers: 30
Tries: Shane Elford(2), Daniel Fitzhenry(3), Anthony Laffranchi, Paul Whatuira
Goals: Brett Hodgson 1/7
Melbourne Storm: 28
Tries: Cooper Cronk, Ryan Hoffman, Greg Inglis, Billy Slater(2)
Goals: Cameron Smith 4/5
By the Clock:
Kickoff minutes away.
Both sides as per program 1-13, with the Storm bench sees Walker out and Adam Blair in jersey 18 onto the lineup.
A cracker of a match coming up here between the reigning premiers Wests Tigers and 1999 winners Melbourne Storm. Both sides fielding a strong lineup with the Tigers haveing a few key players back on the park including whiz-kid Benji Marshall. Tim Sheens celebrates Game #500 as a coach.
0 min: NEWS Kickoff! Storm have first possession
4 min: NEWS - VIDEO REF Decision Pending... Possible Storm try after some stinging early attack...
5 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
The Video Ref awards the try for Greg Inglis after he jumps through a few defenders following a cross-field bomb. Conversion for Smith unsuccessful.
6 min: NEWS Tigers forward Anthony Laffranchi on report for a tackle on a Melbourne Storm player.
7 min: NEWS Storm still getting the bulk of the attack, forcing another set on the Tigers line.
13 min: TRY Wests Tigers
Laffranchi throws himself across the line despite the attention of three Storm defenders. Conversion from Hodgson is A-OK.
18 min: NEWS Scott Hill for the Storm is on report after a high shot on Scott Prince. Tigers on the attack.
19 min: NEWS - VIDEO REF Decision Pending on a try to Shane Elford...
20 min: TRY Wests Tigers
Shane Elford goes in out wide after a stunning Whatuira pass, and the video ref Tim Mander awards the try. Hodgson struggles with the conversion and the Tigers continue to lead by 6.
23 min: NEWS A number of plays after it happened, Jamaal Lolesi has been put on report after a late hit on a Storm player. Tigers still get the penalty anyway and continue on the attack.
28 min: TRY Wests Tigers
Elford crosses in the corner again after another great pass, this time from halfback Prince. Hodgson misses from out wide again.
34 min: NEWS Storm finally get some possession after a good 20-minute period where Wests dominated. Melbourne now heavy on the attack.
37 min: TRY Wests Tigers
Marshall brilliance to Fitzhenry in the corner puts the Tigers up by plenty as the break looms just minutes away. Hodgson's conversion is his third miss. Tigers up by 14 as we move towards halftime.
The Wests Tigers are up by 14 at the break, with only goalkicking stopping them from being further in front. Dominating possession and finding the key ingredients in attack that won them the trophy last year, it appears that with Benji back, so are the Tigers. Stay tuned for all the second half action to see if Melbourne strike back... or will Wests continue to put them to the sword.
42 min: TRY Wests Tigers
The home side goes over again through Whatuira and the Storm look stunned. Hodgson still can't convert from the touchline, but the Tigers are still on track to take home the points.
55 min: TRY Wests Tigers
Fitzhenry shuts out any chances after a great run from Collis and the Tigers pull away now. Hodgson unbelievably misses again, hitting the post from an easier angle.
58 min: TRY Wests Tigers
Fitzhenry gets a triple! The Tigers are on fire now and the Storm simply have no answers. Hodgson's percentages with the kicking continue to dip with yet another miss.
64 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Slater scores a runaway after a break up the middle 40m out. Smith shows Hodgson how it's done from right in front.
69 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Slater crosses for another Melbourne try. The run has been left too late though. Smith converts.
78 min: NEWS The game winds down with the Storm in possession at present after some up and back play.
CROWD FIGURE 17,803 at Leichhardt Oval.
79 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Cronk scores another consolation try. Smith converts and only eight points in it.
80 min: TRY Melbourne Storm
Storm bring the final margin to just two points! Smith's conversion caps off a bizarre and inaccurate game of footy where the scoreline definitely doesn't represent the performances of the teams.
The Tigers have taken out an unusual game of footy against a late-spirited Melbourne Storm outfit by 30-28. The Tigers dominated for 60 minutes, leading 30-4 at one stage before Melbourne scored a couple of soft tries and then two more in the final minutes.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Paul Whatuira (Tigers)
2 - Daniel Fitzhenry (Tigers)
1 - Billy Slater (Storm)
Tigers hold out late Storm surge