Storm clinch Round 1 thriller
Melbourne Storm have clinched a thrilling season opening victory in golden point extra time against the Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval.
In a game of two contrasting halves, Storm overturned a 20-point deficit to defeat last year's grand finalists on their own turf on Saturday night.
An assured and composed performance during the second stanza saw Melbourne take control of momentum, silencing the vocal Sea Eagles crowd for much of the half as they chipped away at Manly Warringah's early advantage.
Storm skipper Cameron Smith was instrumental, claiming victory with a drop goal in extra time on the night he equalled Matt Geyer's club games record. Alongside Smith, playmakers Billy Slater and Ben Hampton were influential as were reserve forwards Kenny Bromwich, Jordan McLean and George Rose who provided plenty of energy off the bench for Melbourne.
Storm found their defence tested and stretched early in the contest, with Manly beginning the match brightly. With just over three minutes on the clock, winger Steve Matai capitalised on the hosts' quick ball movement, finding space on the left wing to open the scoring.
Looking dangerous on both edges, Manly again threatened on the wing shortly after, doubling their advantage through Cheyse Blair.
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The Sea Eagles domination continued in the 21st minute when Brett Stewart threaded a kick through for Justin Horo who took the home side to a 16-0 lead, leaving Melbourne with a mountain to climb.
Craig Bellamy's side managed the breach the Sea Eagles defence and gain a foothold in the game just over half an hour into the half. A line break following some impressive combination play between Will Chambers and Ryan Hoffman allowed Sisa Waqa to open the scoring as Storm transitioned the ball to the open side of the field thanks to a Cameron Smith kick.
Following the half time break, Waqa was again on the scoreboard, drawing Storm closer. The flying Fijian found the right hand touchline following some intuitive lead up play from Ben Hampton and Billy Slater. Hampton then backed up his earlier effort continuing the Storm fightback with some fancy footwork to bring his side to within six points.
Amazingly, Melbourne continued their monsoon of attacks to overturn their half time deficit and level the scores. Kenny Bromwich's four pointer allowed Smith to lock proceedings up at 20-20 as Slater and Hampton kept the ball alive on the final tackle.
A Smith penalty goal took Storm ahead momentarily before the Sea Eagles' hit back with one of their own through skipper Jamie Lyon. Neither side could find a clinching try in the closing stages, taking the game into golden point extra time where Smith clinched the winner.
Melbourne Storm 23
Tries: Sisa Waqa 33m, Sisa Waqa 46m, Ben Hampton 52m, Kenny Bromwich 55m
Goals: Cameron Smith 3
Field goal: Cameron Smith
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 22
Tries: Steve Matai 4m, Cheyse Blair 13m, Justin Horo 21m, Steve Matai 29m
Goals: Jamie Lyon 3