In what can best be described as an ANZAC Day boilover, the Warriors have showed steely defence in the second half to record an 18-14 win over the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park tonight.
While many thought the final match of Round 7 was a done deal and the Storm were expected to triumph easily, the Warriors bought their A-game and despite early points for the home side, began to control the game and identified some weak points for the Storm. Aerial raids bought repeat sets for the visitors, Krisnan Inu and Jacob Lillyman the beneficiaries, the former through a spilled high ball, the latter bumping and turning under the posts following a Storm error which led to a repeat set.
Micheal Luck would add to the Warriors' tally after an attempted strip by Anthony Quinn went horribly wrong, Video Referee Pat Reynolds ruling Luck's position in front of the original ball-runner was irrelevant as Quinn's hand was the last to touch the ball before Luck's "lucky" pounce. At 18-6 the Warriors suddenly looked likely to go on with it, although a Cameron Smith penalty goal on halftime shortened the gap to ten points, leaving the score at the break 18-8 in favour of the away side.
The second half saw far fewer penalties, better defence and an exciting game of football. The Warriors conceded an early try after the Storm discovered the high ball worked for them too - Slater tapping it back to Cronk and the Storm shut the gap to four. It would stay that way for the remainder of the game and while there were the obvious questions over refereeing decisions, the Warriors' spirit and fight was typified in the dying minutes when Lewis Brown clamoured over Beau Champion to stop the former Rabbitoh from equalling the scores and force the ball loose.
A much improved Warriors side hosts Penrith next Sunday afternoon at Mt Smart Stadium, while Melbourne will be looking to bounce back at home on Saturday evening against last-start winners Newcastle.
Melbourne Storm 14 were defeated by New Zealand Warriors 18
National Rugby League - Round 7 - Monday April 25, 2011 7:00pm
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Shayne Hayne and Gavin Morris
Video Referee: Pat Reynolds
Touch Judges: Daniel Eastwood and Adam Gee
Halftime: Melbourne Storm 8 New Zealand Warriors 18
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Michael Luck (1 Try)
2 Points - James Maloney (2 Conversions, 1 Penalty Goal)
1 Point - Matt Duffie
MELBOURNE STORM (14)
Tries: Cooper Cronk, Beau Champion
Conversions: Cameron Smith (2/2)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (1/1)
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS (18)
Tries: Michael Luck, Krisnan Inu, Jacob Lillyman
Conversions: James Maloney (2/3)
Penalty Goals: James Maloney (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to the final match of this Easter Long Weekend, the NRL's second traditional ANZAC Day clash between Melbourne and the Warriors.
ANZAC Day commemorations have concluded and the Anthems are done. The Storm only have one change - Lowrie and Hinchcliffe swapping around with the latter to start.
Two changes for the Warriors - Tupou OUT, 23. Kevin Locke IN on the wing; Latimore OUT, 20. Russell Packer new interchange player.
UNDERWAY! Monday Night Football is underway, Storm with first use of the football.
1 min: PENALTY Storm. Easy metres at the end of the first set after some initial good defence from NZ. Cleary would be frustrated.
2 min: Storm kick on the fifth ricochets into the legs of the Warriors and is regathered - six more.
3 min: Another PENALTY to Melbourne, and then the Storm cross on tackle 3 - VIDEO REFEREE, possible Storm try.
4 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Beau Champion. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
The Storm with the best possible start, Beau Champion crashes over following a beautiful Billy Slater assist. Cam Smith successfully converts.
Melbourne Storm 6-0
6 min: Warriors finally get some possession 6 minutes in, and a PENALTY for a strip against Cam Smith on the second tackle.
8 min: The Warriors unable to capitalise there, they give Slater a catch in-goal... then concede a penalty for being offside from the 20m restart.
10 min: PENALTY Warriors, Hayne doesn't like Smith's late and supposedly shot on Seymour as he puts the kick up. Visitors with an attacking chance now.
11 min: Nothing doing at the end of that set, Maloney's grubber is watched over the dead ball line by Duffie.
14 min: Warriors almost with a 40/20, the Storm stop it and return the ball well but Nielsen has dropped it. Warriors with the scrum and another attack chance.
15 min: Another kick in-goal from the Warriors means another 20m restart to the Storm. No imagination on the last from Maloney or Seymour.
17 min: Storm fifth tackle, they kick and KEVIN LOCKE! He's away! Slater has his measure though, ankle tapping before Cronk wraps him up. The Warriors throw the ball side-to-side but cough it up ultimately, a poor set in attack and great Storm defence.
19 min: Cronk's fifth tackle kicking, like his Warriors' counterparts, hasn't been great tonight. Hohaia fields this one on the full and the visitors are already back over halfway on tackle two...
21 min: VIDEO REFEREE, possible try to Warriors' winger Krisnan Inu off a spilled high ball...
23 min: TRY
TRY New Zealand Warriors
Scored by Krisnan Inu. Conversion attempt by James Maloney unsuccessful.
The high ball goes up and the Storm have dropped it, the video referee has no problems to give Krisnan Inu a four-pointer in cleaning up the scraps. Maloney misses away to the left.
Melbourne Storm 6-4
26 min: PENALTY GOAL
PENALTY GOAL New Zealand Warriors
Penalty goal attempt by James Maloney successful.
Maloney seizes the opportunity to level the scores after a miss just minutes ago. The penalty comes from a high tackle by the Storm just a tackle after Billy Slater dropped a fifth tackle bomb. Warriors looking strong at the moment.
28 min: The aerial route is proving deadly for the Warriors, they've forced another spill and a fresh set of six on the Storm line!
30 min: TRY
TRY New Zealand Warriors
Scored by Jacob Lillyman. Conversion attempt by James Maloney successful.
Beautiful bump, turn and TRY TIME for Jacob Lillyman and the Warriors hit the front! A glut of possession sees the visitors leading arguably the competition's best side by six with the successful Maloney conversion.
New Zealand Warriors 12-6
31 min: Warriors break up the middle, and now PENALTY as Slater has stripped it from Heremaia. Replays show it was a knock on, bad luck for the Storm there. Warriors to attack the Storm line AGAIN!
32 min: VIDEO REFEREE possible Warriors try to Micheal Luck...
33 min: TRY
TRY New Zealand Warriors
Scored by Michael Luck. Conversion attempt by James Maloney successful.
Wow. Boilover here at AAMI Park! Michael Luck has pounced on the pill after a one-on-one strip failed from Anthony Quinn. It's awarded by the man upstairs Pat Reynolds... and Maloney converts. Warriors lead by 12!
New Zealand Warriors 18-6
34 min: Storm flirting with danger, the long fifth tackle kick down the park from the Warriors is almost stuffed by Quinn as he tries trapping it with his foot but almost sends it dead. Slater recovers it but Melbourne are in all sorts of trouble here.
35 min: Maloney puts the ball out over the touchline on the last to give both sides a breather. Halftime approaching and one can only imagine that the paint on the walls of the Storm dressing room will be quivering in fear at Bellamy's upcoming spray...
38 min: Superb kicking now from the Warriors halves putting it again over the touchline to get the scrum and a breather - and in turn nullifying the effect of Billy Slater. 90 seconds left in the half, Storm to work it away from their own 20m line.
39 min: PENALTY Storm, Smith puts a long touchfinder down the park and with about 50 seconds, the Storm could reel in part of the deficit here before oranges.
40 min: PENALTY GOAL
PENALTY GOAL Melbourne Storm
Penalty goal attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
Another PENALTY right in front of the sticks to the Storm, but with only seconds on the clock they've opted for the two, reducing the deficit from 12 points down to 10.
New Zealand Warriors 18-8
HALFTIME at AAMI Park and it's an ANZAC Day boilover here in Melbourne, the Warriors controlling the middle portion of the first half to put the Storm behind 18-8 at the break. When Melbourne are in possession they look likely and have the class to do the job, but the Warriors have played the smart options and figured out how to get around the Storm's rock solid defence. Despite the margin, this one is evenly balanced as we go into the second stanza.
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41 min: A mountain to climb for the Storm in the second half but the Warriors aren't home yet either - second half begins and the visitors will get first possession.
43 min: Storm on the attack but it looks like Micheal Luck has been injured in defence. Time off. In other injury news, Krisnan Inu is back on the park after earlier concerns around a wrist injury following his first half try.
45 min: TRY
TRY Melbourne Storm
Scored by Cooper Cronk. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
High ball goes up, Slater comes down and taps it back for Cronk to score next to the posts. Smith adds the extras to shrink the gap to just four.
New Zealand Warriors 18-14
50 min: Some brutal defence in the last few exchanges, nothing too threatening since the Storm try... and just as I say that Melbourne are down the touchline before handing it to Widdop who makes some more metres to take the hosts from pinned down to on the attack. Two plays later Duffie spills the pill though. Exciting stuff from Melbourne.
55 min: Storm in a rare event have been caught running the ball on the last as they surge into Warriors territory. The handover is almost botched by the visitors, but Hayne lets them take the play-the-ball again.
57 min: The Warriors go close after a bomb produces a favourable situation for them - but one of the passes is deemed forward by Hayne and it's a Storm handover. Hohaia claims a try but the men in pink are having none of it.
59 min: No idea what's going on here - Storm knock-on ruled despite Slater having the ball stripped from his grasp, reclaiming possession and six again being ruled. Warriors scrum.
60 min: Some form of Karma for Melbourne, Heremaia spills it on tackle two. Errors are 5-a-piece, this has been a top quality game so far.
61 min: Huge break by Widdop up the left flank and he's almost got Hohaia beat before he falls over himself. The Storm keep going side to side, the Warriors' defence holds, and on the fifth the bomb to the right is taken safely by Krisnan Inu, JUST in the field of play.
64 min: PENALTY Storm for a high tackle and the trailing side will attack again. Can the Warriors defence continue to hold...?
65 min: ...Yes it can. Mateo reads the fifth tackle kick well and secures possession for his side. Warriors to work it off their own line.
67 min: Quinn spills the lollies on halfway for the Storm. Warriors with a rare attacking set here, a try here would make things very difficult for the Storm.
70 min: PENALTY Storm, Quinn takes a solid catch near his own line off a bomb, Mannering is guilty of hitting him high coming through in the chase.
72 min: Heart-in-mouth stuff as for the second time today, James Maloney sends a spiralling kick toward the sideline - looking like it's going out on the full but it JUST stays in. Storm scrum 30m out from their own line.
74 min: NO TRY for Beau Champion after yet another superb Storm break down the left. They spread it right once Widdop is grassed, but some Herculean defence from Lewis Brown has stopped Champion getting the ball down! Warriors scrum 10m from their own line.
75 min: No points in half an hour for either side, this has been a real war of attrition, both sides defending their lines very well.
76 min: Rapira knocks the ball down out of Slater's hands, it's a knock on and the Storm have a scrum inside NZ territory...
76 min: ... they kick off the back of the scrum, but Inu has it under control and the Warriors get the ball back on their own line.
77 min: HUGE minute of play there, Maloney forcing the ball loose from the Storm, Luck picked it up and ran to the line before Slater hammered him 5 metres out - the Warriors spread the ball and... it's out over the touchline. They had them on the ropes! Storm scrum on their own 10m line with 3:30 remaining.
78 min: The Storm scramble up the park but they can't control the ball and it's gone dead. Warriors 20m restart.
78 min: Warriors mistake on halfway! Storm possession, last chance to attack...
79 min: That could be the game! Cronk with the cross-field kick, Inu has grabbed it out of the air! They move it up the park... now a PENALTY and that will be all she wrote!
FULLTIME That's all! The Storm lose their first match at AAMI Park in almost a year, the Warriors are back in some mean form and defence wins the day!