Melbourne Storm have secured a thrilling 28-24 victory over St. George Illawarra thanks to an 80th minute try to youngster Young Tonumaipea.
Trailing by 14 points throughout the second half, three unanswered tries from the hosts allowed Craig Bellamy’s side to record a memorable victory.
With a play the ball on the left wing just before the final siren, Melbourne shifted the ball to the right flank and then back to the left before finding a way past the Dragons defence who had been steadfast all evening.
With the Melbourne defence under early pressure to begin the match, Storm were forced to face three St. George Illawarra attacking sets. The visitors made the most of their first venture into attacking territory, opening the scoring through Dylan Farrell.
The Dragons outside back was played into a hole in the corner thanks to a creative flick pass from his partner on the right edge, Jason Nightingale.
Responding positively to falling behind, Storm advanced up the park to take the lead. A high ball from Cooper Cronk caused the Dragons defence trouble as Ryan Hoffman kept the ball alive for Jesse Bromwich.
The New Zealand international found himself at the right place at the right time to score next to the uprights.
Buoyed following the Bromwich try, Melbourne tightened up defensively and began to take control of the contest.
A clever kick from Billy Slater allowed Melbourne to extend their lead much to the delight of the home faithful. The fullback’s grubber allowed Will Chambers to worry Josh Dugan out of a bouncing ball to score.
A late try and subsequent conversion following a report on Storm centre Will Chambers allowed the travelling Dragons to take a narrow 12-10 lead into half-time.
Steve Price’s side were inspired by weaving run from Dugan shortly after the break, starting the second stanza as they finished the first. Gerard Beale finished off his side’s fast break, stretching Storm’s defence in the left corner to hand the Dragons an 18-10 lead.
The avalanche of Dragons’ attacks continued following the try as Melbourne’s defence was put to the test. A Trent Merrin try approaching the hour mark left Storm with a mountain to climb, needing to close a 14 point deficit in 26 minutes.
After claiming the weight of possession for much of the closing stages, Melbourne finally found a crack in the resolute Dragons defence. Cooper Cronk’s cut out ball played in Chambers for his second of the evening.
Just two minutes later, Cronk crossed the try line for a four pointer of his own to give the home side a fighting chance. A brilliant line break from Ben Roberts allowed Storm to draw within two points.
A dramatic final 10 minutes of play had the 13,310 strong crowd at AAMI Park on the edge of their seats before Victorian Tonumaipea sent them into raptures, finishing off the ultimate team move.
Melbourne Storm 28
Tries: Jesse Bromwich 16m, Will Chambers 30m, Will Chambers 69m, Cooper Cronk 71m, Young Tonumaipea 80m
Goals: Cameron Smith 4
St. George Illawarra 24
Tries: Dylan Farrell 5m, Brett Morris 36m, Gerard Beale 47m, Trent Merrin 54m
Goals: Gareth Widdop 4