2 days ago
Tigers crash Billy’s 300th party to stun Storm
The Wests Tigers giant killing run is no fluke, with Benji Marshall turning back to clock to lead his side to a remarkable 10-8 victory over the defending premiers the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park tonight.
Despite being on the end of a record 18-8 penalty count and prop Ben Matulino being sent to the Sin Bin in the 64th minute, Ivan Cleary's men somehow remained in the game and clinched a famous victory for the unheralded Tigers who shocked premiership favourites the Roosters in Round 1.
New recruit Ben Matulino went from villain to hero upon his return from the Sin Bin, when his desperate offload at the line bounced up perfectly for halfback Luke Brooks to dive over and ruin Billy Slater's 300th NRL match in front of his home fans.
Despite being a popular pick for the wooden spoon by many experts in the pre-season, the rebuilding Tigers have now beaten two of the premiership heavyweights in consecutive weeks to sit undefeated heading into their Round 3 match against the Brisbane Broncos next Friday night.
Club legend Benji Marshall has a new lease of life back in the Tigers jersey, his experience and kick game was top shelf and the veteran half put the Tigers in position to clinch the match with his direction in attack and calming influence over his young outside backs and edge forwards.
Melbourne, who traditionally handle club milestones with much style on the paddock, were all at sea for the majority of Slater's 300th appearance for the club, with Craig Bellemy's men making an astonishing 17 errors, which is the most errors the Storm have made in a match since 2005.
The Tigers were out to prove that last week's giant kill of the then premiership favourites the Roosters was no fluke and they did just that in the first half. The Tigers were excellent in defence repelling the Storm set plays on numerous occasions and controlling the ruck like a Top 8 outfit.
In a tryless first half the Tigers through young centre and second string goalkicker Esan Marsters kicked two penalty goals to give the Tigers a deserved 4-0 advantage at halftime.
The hosts were poor by their high standards early, making 7 errors in the first half which included stars Cameron Smith and Billy Slater both with regulation knock-ons that you don't normally see from the Australian representatives.
Wests Tigers then continued their rugby union style approach to the match, when Marsters again took an option to extend their lead to 6-0 with his third penalty goal in the 54th minute. The game was then turned on its head and in the home side's favour, when off the back off consecutive penalties, prop Ben Matulino was sent to the Sin Bin for a professional foul.
Melbourne took advantage of the extra man, managing to score the first try of the match through try-scoring ace Suliasi Vunivalu, who leaped over in the corner in trademark fashion to give his side the momentum. Smith missed the conversion from out wide, but the Storm's intensity immediately lifted as they rolled down field and landed a penalty goal to even up the game at 6 all with 12 minutes left. The Storm continued to roll on through the middle in Matulino's absence and took the lead for the first time minutes later off the back of a Luke Brooks head high tackle and a lazy Elijah Taylor penalty in front of the sticks and looked to be on their way to a gritty win at 8-6 with less than 10 minutes to go.
Milestone man Slater then looked to have sent former Tiger Addo-Carr over for the winning try but the pass was correctly ruled forward by officials and the Tigers were still in the hunt.
Prop Matulino then made up for his sin binning when the former Kiwi International managed to get a desperate pass away which saw Brooks dive over to score the match-winner and seal a remarkable win.
The giant-killing Tigers now head home to Campbelltown next week, where they host the Brisbane Broncos on Friday night. Ivan Cleary's bunch of perceived misfits will be looking to keep their fairy tale going against another one of the competition heavyweights.
The Storm will need to put this game behind them, as they now face a short turnaround, where they play in the Grand Final re-match against the Cowboys on Thursday, which promises to be one of the games of the season at AAMI Park.
Melbourne Storm 8 - Wests Tigers 10
Venue: AAMI Park
Halftime Score: Melbourne Storm 0 Wests Tigers 4
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Benji Marshall
2 points - Elijah Taylor
1 points - Esan Marsters
MELBOURNE STORM (8)
Tries: Suliasi Vunivalu
Conversions: Cameron Smith (0/1)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (2/2)
WESTS TIGERS (10)
Tries: Luke Brooks
Conversions: Esan Marsters (0/1)
Penalty Goals: Esan Marsters (3/3)