A loss to St. George Illawarra on Sunday has seen Melbourne bow out of the 2014 Auckland Nines at the group stage.
Storm’s victory over South Sydney on Saturday evening was not enough for Melbourne to advance into the quarter finals with the Rabbitohs and Panthers both qualifying from the red pool.
Melbourne Storm 10 defeated by St. George Illawarra Dragons 14
For the third successive game in the tournament, Melbourne conceded the opening points of the match after a slow start.
Brett Morris handed the winless St George Illawarra an early advantage as he latched onto the end of a kick in behind the Storm defence.
Josh Dugan then doubled his side’s advantage in the Dragons’ next attacking set with a piece of individual brilliance as another kick made life difficult for Melbourne.
Melbourne kept their chances of a win alive on the stroke of half-time with one of the tries of the tournament.
Storm kept the ball alive after the siren sounded with some creative play which ended up with forward Mitch Garbutt who’s 50 metre run was too powerful for the Dragons to stop.
Buoyed by Garbutt’s effort, Storm began the second stanza strongly, immediately pressuring the Dragons defence. Mahe Fonua’s strength pushed him over the try line after an impressive Melbourne move, handing Storm the lead for the first time of the afternoon.
However it was short lived as the Dragons’ hit back thanks to another try from Brett Morris, the winger’s fourth of the tournament, leaving Melbourne to finish their 2014 Nines campaign with just one victory.
Day 1 Results
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.