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In a week full of intense pressure and scrutiny for the Storm, the opportunity to flee the country bound for Auckland sounded like a blessing in disguise. However they were met by a determined Warriors side who played to the conditions.
An absorbing contest was developing early between young guns Sonny Fai and Israel Folau out in the centres. Sonny Fai drew first blood nice and early after taking a pass behind him and powering over to get the home side off to a great start. Hohaia missed the difficult conversion from the sideline.
A grind then followed with each team doing their best to adjust to the horrendous conditions of swirling wind and teeming rain. The Storm on the back of some terrific kicks from skipper Cameron Smith tried to play good field position in the first half but their handling let them down. Error after error by the Storm gave the Warriors copious amounts of good field position.
Led by a fine running display by Warriors hooker Ian Henderson, the Warriors attacked the Storm line with regularity. But the Storm defence held strong. Henderson however had a try disallowed as he ploughed over from dummy half. Video referee Phil Cooley ruled that Tuimavave who was playing the ball, obstructed Storm backrower Hoffman from making the tackle.
The concern was that the dominance by the Warriors did not yield the necessary points. Those concerns became ever so apparent after the Storm rolled the dice with a kick from their twenty metre restart. The Storm then took one of their few opportunities in the Warriors half as try scoring forward Sika Manu ran with purpose and poise to dive over under the posts. Cameron Smith tied up the ball game up with fifteen to go.
Roll forward to the 73rd minute as Storm backrower Crocker gives away the crucial penalty for not playing the ball correctly. Lance Hohaia steps up and nails the kick from forty metres out to put the Warriors back in front. The Storm rallied in the last few moments but the Warriors held on for a deserving win.
A crowd of just under 9,000 braved the elements and they were rewarded by a spirited win by the home side who take on the Rabbitohs next week at ANZ Stadium. The Storm on the other hand will hope to bounce back in front of their home crowd next week against the Titans.
Match Details New Zealand Warriors 8 bt Melbourne Storm 6 Round 20 - Saturday July 26th, 2008 12:00pm (2:00pm NZ Time) Venue: Mt Smart Stadium Referee: Jared Maxwell Touch Judges: Matt Cecchin, Mohamad Fajajo Video Referee: Phil Cooley Halftime: Warriors 4 Storm 0 Crowd: 8,752 New Zealand Warriors (8) Tries: Sonny Fai Goals: Lance Hohaia (2/3) Melbourne Storm (6) Tries: Sika Manu Goals: Cameron Smith (1/1) LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: Ian Henderson (Warriors) 2 Points: Michael Luck (Warriors) 1 Point: Michael Crocker (Storm)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary An under fire Melbourne Storm outfit cross the Tasman to take on a New Zealand Warriors side who have commenced a late season charge towards the finals, winning their last three matches.
The Warriors, led by their solid, experienced forward pack have the opportunity to not only enter the top eight, but enter whilst making a statement over the reigning premiers. Whilst the Storm will aim to continue to keep the pressure on the first-placed Sea Eagles in the race for the minor premiership.
It has been a short-turn around for the Storm on the back of one of the most fiercest battles in recent times in Monday Night Football against the Dragons. The Storm will go into the match without their star fullback Billy Slater who is out suspended for one week. Steve Turner moves from the wing to fullback with Brett Anderson the new winger. Brett White is also out of the side. Adam Blair comes off the bench into prop. The new man on the bench is Russell Aitken.
The Warriors are unchanged from the team picked earlier in the week. There is a jumper change for bench utility Jerome Ropati now wearing 20.
The teams will line up as below.
WARRIORS: 1. Lance Hohaia 2. Malo Solomona 3. Brent Tate 4. Sonny Fai 5. Aiden Kirk 6. Nathan Fien 7. Grant Rovelli 8. Ruben Wiki 9. Ian Henderson 10. Steve Price (c) 11. Simon Mannering 12. Logan Swann 13. Micheal Luck Interchange: 20. Jerome Ropati 15. Evarn Tuimavave 16. Sam Rapira 17. Ben Matulino STORM: 2. Steve Turner 18. Brett Anderson 3. Matt Geyer 4. Israel Folau 5. Anthony Quinn 6. Greg Inglis 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jeff Lima 9. Cam Smith 15. Adam Blair 11. Michael Crocker 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Dallas Johnson Interchange: 14. Jeremy Smith 16. Sika Manu 17. Antonio Kaufusi 19. Aitken
The players are now coming onto the field.
2 min: Warriors playing good field position early.
6 min: Teams exchanging sets of six.
7 min: Swann error alleviates the pressure.
10 min: TRY New Zealand Warriors Sonny Fai TRY! Great take by Sonny Fai has he powers over in the corner. Conversion attempt by Lance Hohaia unsuccessful. New Zealand Warriors 4-0
12 min: A Warriors error off the kick off by Henderson. Drop out Warriors.
13 min: Another Hoffman error relieves the Warriors' defence.
17 min: Inglis tackled in goals. Drop out for the Storm.
19 min: Storm do well to hold on.
25 min: Poor kick by Cronk early in the tackle count relieves the pressure.
26 min: Geyer error sees the Warriors start their set of six in Storm territory.
26 min: Fai error. Conditions worsening.
29 min: Warriors really muscling up in the defence.
32 min: Storm tackled in goals. Storm drop out to come.
34 min: Poor kick from backrower Luck on the last.
35 min: Tremendous take by Inglis on an attacking kick goes unrewarded as Jeremy Smith gets tackled in possession on the last.
37 min: PENALTY for the Warriors for holding down. Penalties against the Storm mounting.
38 min: Possible try to Henderson being reviewed for obstruction by the marker.
38 min: Try disallowed for the marker interfering.
39 min: Warriors turn defence into attack. Matulino races away for some valuable metres.
40 min: Poor kick by Rovelli will bring us into half time.
The players are now coming on for the second half.
43 min: Matulino error gives Storm an early opportunity.
44 min: Potential try to Hoffman being reviewed.
44 min: Quinn knock on leads to the try being disallowed.
45 min: Johnson error will give the Warriors an opportunity. The Warriors need some more points to justify their dominance.
46 min: Fai drops the ball after a kick on the last tackle.
48 min: Dallas Johnson taken off for a cut to the head. PENALTY Warriors for markers not square.
49 min: PENALTY to the Warriors right in front. Potential two points coming up.
50 min: PENALTY GOAL New Zealand Warriors Lance Hohaia kicks the penalty from in front. New Zealand Warriors 6-0
52 min: Poor cut out pass by Hohaia flies into touch. Pressure off.
53 min: Error by Manu keeps the pressure on the Storm.
54 min: A well weighted kick by the Warriors forced by Folau. The Warriors will get another set of six courtesy on a goal line drop out by the Storm.
56 min: The Storm continue to display their solid defence.
57 min: Terrible Turner kick on the last tackle skews off the side of his boot. The Warriors continue to build pressure.
58 min: The Storm hold on again. Start at the 20 metre line.
59 min: A high Cronk kick swirls in the breeze and bounces into space. Eventually secured in the in goals by Solomona. Drop out Warriors.
60 min: PENALTY Storm. Building some pressure of their own. Storm error by Cameron Smith.
61 min: Storm use the kicking tactic on their 20 metre restart. It pays dividends for the Storm with a scrum feed inside Warriors territory.
62 min: TRY Melbourne Storm Sika Manu TRY! A determined run by Manu up the middle, as he powers through the Warriors defence and scores under the sticks. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful. 6 all
67 min: Inglis error playing the ball. Warriors have first crack at breaking the dead lock.
69 min: PENALTY to the Storm for holding. The Storm to start their set of six 40 metres out from the Warriors line.
69 min: Manu error.
70 min: Fien takes a snap at field goal. Not even close.
71 min: Huge call in the game. Storm PENALISED for an incorrect play the ball by Crocker. Hohaia to attempt a shot at goal from 40 metres out to break the deadlock.
72 min: PENALTY GOAL New Zealand Warriors Hohaia lands a huge penalty goal from 40 metres out. New Zealand Warriors 8-6
73 min: Storm short kick off pays dividends. On the attack.
74 min: Ropati snuffs out a Storm opportunity on the last tackle.
76 min: Storm lifting their game in attack and defence. Time running out.
76 min: Error by Fien on the last tackle after a poor ball from dummy half. The Storm have 4 minutes to get a result.
79 min: Storm have just a minute. Ball in hand.
80 min: Another set of six.
80 min: Lima gets tackled in possession. The Warriors hang on.