The Wests Tigers have turned in a stellar defensive performance to overcome 2008 Grand Finalists the Melbourne Storm in front of 12,646 vocal fans at Leichhardt Oval tonight, in the last game of Round 6.
It was a game that started with all the momentum going the way of the home side, the Tigers getting numerous sets of six before the Storm even touched the ball, but failing to cross the line. The Storm turned the tables and with just their second set of six, crossed the line with ease, Ryan Hoffman palming off the weak Tigers defence to put his team six points up early.
Melbourne couldn't hold the ball and it seemed the Tigers were primed to take advantage, but it took until the 26th minute when Chris Lawrence broke through and charged over the line for the first of his two tries, and the last points of the match until the final minute.
The remainder of the first half and the entire second half was a story of solid defence and poor handling for both sides, plenty of scoring opportunities going missing for both sides, with drop balls and forward passes cruelling both sides. The final minute held the only points of the half, Chris Lawrence's double coming off a set play by Benji Marshall at the scrum base. The flying Tiger then raced 70 metres, outpacing Billy Slater to put the nail in the Storm coffin.
Next week holds a short turnaround for the listless Storm, a clash with the Warriors on ANZAC evening this Saturday at home. The Tigers move their base of operations to Campbelltown on Sunday and host the rejuventated Knights in what should be a bumper afternoon of footy.
Match Details Wests Tigers 16 def Melbourne Storm 6 Round 6 - Full Time :: April 20th, 2009 7:00pm Venue: Leichhardt Oval Referee: Tony Archer & Shayne Hayne Sideline Officials: Paul Holland & Steve Chiddy Video Referee: Sean Hampstead Crowd: 12,646 Halftime: Tigers 10 Storm 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Leichhardt Oval is the place for footy this Monday night, but with some ordinary Sydney weather over the last 24 hours, the sides won't be splitting at the normally packed suburban ground.
Both teams have put their team sheets in, the home side are one through seventeen, the visitors Melbourne just one small swap between the starting and bench players. Those teams are:
TIGERS: 1. Tim Moltzen 2. Taniela Tuiaki 3. Dean Collis 4. Chris Lawrence 5. Beau Ryan 6. John Morris 7. Benji Marshall 8. Keith Galloway 9. Robbie Farah 10. Todd Payten 11. Gareth Ellis 12. Chris Heighington 13. Danny Galea Interchange: 14. Bryce Gibbs 15. Dene Halatau 16. Corey Payne 17. Rhys Hanbury STORM: 1. Billy Slater 2. Steve Turner 3. Will Chambers 4. Greg Inglis 5. Anthony Quinn 6. James Maloney 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jeff Lima 9. Cameron Smith (c) 10. Adam Blair 15. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Dallas Johnson Interchange: 11. Wairangi Koopu 14. Ryan Hinchcliffe 16. Aiden Tolman 17. Scott Anderson
Kickoff should take place shortly, don't miss a minute!
First half kickoff: We're underway at Leichhardt Oval, the Tigers with first possession.
1 min: PENALTY Tigers - captain Cameron Smith laying all over the tackled player and less than a minute in the Tigers will get some attacking football.
2 min: Robbie Farah held up on tackle five. Last tackle... and they force a drop-out despite the short in-goal area.
4 min: Nothing going right here for the Storm but the Tigers still yet to cross the line. They'll have another set at the Storm line after forcing them in-goal again.
5 min: Well absorbed in defence from the Storm as they finally get possession after five minutes of the contest. A poor fifth tackle kick hits Ryan Hoffman straight in the legs and he picks it up. Melbourne's five tackles take them almost 90 metres as the holes in the Tigers defence begin to open up.
8 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Absolutely terrible defence from the Tigers and in just their second set of six this game, Melbourne cross with ease. Ryan Hoffman palms off all-comers and dots down under the sticks. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. Melbourne Storm 6-0
10 min: An error from Adam Blair gives the Tigers possession from the kickoff and from that set, Moltzen looks to have scored for the Tigers. Upstairs to the VIDEO REFEREE. Decision pending from Sean Hampstead...
11 min: TRY Wests Tigers Robbie Farah grubbers on the try line, showing great vision to put it behind the Storm defensive line where Moltzen races to collect the Tigers first points. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. 6 all
13 min: The Tigers let Steve Turner break down the right hand touchline but manage to wrap him up, then mark-up in defence on their own line to deny the Storm. They get a very lucky piggy-back penalty for a ruck infringement and they look to the Storm line for some more points.
17 min: PENALTY Tigers - Melbourne's final tackle kicking option proves costly as the Hayne/Archer ref combo deems chaser Billy Slater offside. The Tigers out of the bunker and working it upfield now.
19 min: PENALTY Storm - Storm get an easy passage out of their own half. They follow it up with a good fifth tackle kick, forcing Moltzen to bat it dead. MASSIVE tackle from Chris Lawrence, smashing Melbourne second-rower Kevin Proctor halfway down the Hume during that set.
24 min: Benji Marshall puts a huge one up in the air, and Billy Slater is forced to take it near to the goal-line, and the chasing Tigers defence puts him down, much to the delight of the Leichhardt faithful. Line drop-out Storm.
26 min: TRY Wests Tigers Sensational footy from the Tigers, Chris Lawrence runs into a hole off a great Benji Marshall pass, and straight over Billy Slater to put it down. Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall unsuccessful. Wests Tigers 10-6
30 min: Todd Payten puts a scare through the Storm players as he chases through a fifth tackle kick and almost is able to chip ahead... but the ball rolls dead off his boot and Melbourne will get the 20 tap.
31 min: A dubious call from Shayne Hayne, Tim Moltzen claiming he made it back into the field of play. Replays show it could've gone either way - and the Tigers are blowing up. Line-drop out Tigers, Melbourne to attack.
33 min: Six more for the Storm as a Tiger touches it mid-flight. Can they hold the Storm out?
35 min: Fantastic defence from the Tigers to keep the Storm out this long. Both teams throwing everything at each other so far, the home side the better of the two.
37 min: Things getting a little scrappy as the half winds down, some loose passes and missed tackles creeping in for both sides.
38 min: Ryan Hoffman goes from hero to villain for the Storm with a terrible play-the-ball giving the Tigers the ball with under two to go in the half.
39 min: Another set for the Tigers before the break as Melbourne turn over possession... but then they too drop the ball and we'll go to halftime with the Tigers 10 leading the Melbourne Storm 6.
HALFTIME Wests Tigers 10 Melbourne Storm 6 It's anyone's game, as they say - but if the first half is anything to go by, the Tigers should run home. The Storm look like they're just idling at the moment, and noone but they know the moment they'll choose to kick into gear - their fans will hope that moment is less than 40 minutes away. The Tigers defence on the other hand has been stellar, but errors have cruelled both sides in the first forty.
Keep your eyes glued, we'll be back with all the second half action soon.
INJURY UPDATE - Tigers forward Chris Heighington has an ankle problem, he's off the park at the moment. More when we can find out the extent of his problem.
Second half kickoff: We're off and racing again, Melbourne have the ball first in the second half.
41 min: Some loose passing around the halfway by the Tigers hands the Storm possession. They will look to strike early...
42 min: A kick deflection sees Melbourne with six more tackles. A real defensive test for the Tigers here.
43 min: A high ball forces another line drop-out, the Storm starting the second half in much the same way their opposition did the first, with three consecutive sets.
45 min: Wests Tigers' winger Taniela Tuiaki takes a brilliant catch in-goal and the home side is out of trouble. 20m tap Tigers.
INJURY UPDATE: Chris Heighington's injury isn't a major one - he's on the bench but still has ice on the ankle. Still not sure if he'll take the field again today though... a big loss for the Tigers.
47 min: The rain is falling steadily at Leichhardt now, and the Tigers use the soggy ground to their advantage, a fantastic kick almost forcing Billy Slater in goal but he gets out. Inglis then bumbles and fumbles and the Tigers go on the attack.
55 min: The Tigers really taking the game to the Storm here, but the rain is creating plenty of errors at both ends of the park.
58 min: VIDEO REFEREE, possible Tigers try but it does look like Beau Ryan has failed to ground the ball for the home side. NO TRY with Storm 20m tap although there is a suggestion it was actually off Anthony Quinn as it went dead.
63 min: A Storm error will give the Tigers a great chance to shut the visitors out of this game...
66 min: The Leichhardt crowd getting very vocal as we enter the final 15 minutes. A break from Marshall results in madness for the Tigers, and puts Melbourne back on the attack.
69 min: Error count going through the roof. First Melbourne turn it over heavily on the attack, then the Tigers throw a loose pass and give the Storm back the ball on halfway. Both teams looking for a knock-out punch.
70 min: Another forward pass from the Storm costs them four points.
71 min: Benji drops the ball at dummy half 40m out from his own line. Melbourne get another chance, but can their impotent attack get them over the line?
74 min: Some spectacular defence from the Tigers forcing the Storm back to 25 metres out on the last... but an equally spectacular long kick from Cooper Cronk.
75 min: PENALTY Tigers - Storm markers not square. A chance for the Tigers to run the clock down a bit, or possibly extend their lead.
78 min: Inglis makes a long break down the touchline and is dragged down just short of halfway. Cronk chips cross-field... Quinn can't make it, it's into touch! 75 seconds to go, Tigers ball.
80 min: TRY Wests Tigers From the ensuing scrum Benji goes down the short side, Chris Lawrence puts the foot down and 80 metres later, Leichhardt is sent into raptures! The Tigers have completed a famous win here today! Conversion attempt by Benji Marshall successful. Wests Tigers 16-6
FULLTIME: Wests Tigers 16 Melbourne Storm 6 The Tigers have capped off a remarkable and emotional win at the old Leichhardt Oval tonight, the rain not dampening the spirits of the thousands who have turned out, most of whom have stayed for many minutes post-match. As the Tigers chant echoes around the old stands, we bid you goodbye for this match as well as the seventh round of the National Rugby League season.