Melbourne Storm have started Day 1 of the inaugural Auckland Nines tournament with a win and a loss at Eden Park.
Craig Bellamy’s side will need to win Sunday’s match against St. George Illawarra if it is to progress through to the knockout stages of the competition.
Melbourne Storm 11 defeated by Penrith Panthers 14
Storm fell to Penrith 11-14 in their opening match of the 2014 Auckland Nines tournament at Eden Park on Saturday.
A sloppy opening from Melbourne with two dropped balls proved costly, allowing the Panthers to gain the early edge. Penrith opened the scoring in just the fourth minute of play through Eto Nabuli on the left wing.
It would be the only points of a messy first half of football with both sides feeling their way into the new format of the game.
The Panthers managed to extend their lead in the second half when Isaac John played in Josh Mansour, leaving Storm a big mountain to climb with just seven minutes left on the clock.
Will Chambers’ ingenuity out of dummy half gave Storm a glimmer of hope, scoring the club’s first ever try in the nine-a-side format and in turn reducing Penrith’s lead.
An acrobatic effort from Isaah Yeo thwarted any hopes of a Melbourne comeback with Cameron Munster’s try in the bonus zone after the siren a mere consolation.
Melbourne Storm 18 defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 12
Another slow start from Melbourne saw Storm fall behind early in the contest, forcing themselves to play catch-up once again.
A precise kick from John Sutton’s left boot found Nathan Merritt free on the left wing, allowing the outside back to stroll over the try line and add the first points of the evening.
Melbourne managed to hit back just before half-time with Will Chambers scoring his second try in as many matches. The centre finished off a strong team move which saw Storm sweep the ball from left to right in a slick passage of play.
Chambers was at it again shortly after, scoring his second of the contest, handing Melbourne the lead thanks to some fancy footwork allowing him to get through the Rabbitohs defence and into the bonus zone.
A costly handling error from South Sydney allowed Storm their second bonus zone try of the night early in the second half, presenting Melbourne with a 10-point lead.
The advantage was enough as Storm held on to claim their first victory of the tournament.