Melbourne Storm have suffered a narrow loss to the Warriors on ANZAC Day, falling 10-16 at AAMI Park.
In front of a record Storm crowd in Melbourne, Storm and the Warriors put on an entertaining clash on Friday night, filled with all the drama and atmosphere of a final.
28,716 fans provided an electric atmosphere inside AAMI Park and they were treated to a tight start to the contest as both sides traded sets early.
Cronk’s early kick to Sisa Waqa on the wing, fired the first warning shot for the Warriors inside opening five minutes.
However it was the visitors who found their clinical edge in attack, reaching try-line to open the scoring. Under heavy pressure from fullback Billy Slater and the sideline, David Fusitua gave his side a 4-0 lead.
Andrew McFadden’s side controlled field position after taking the lead, applying extreme pressure to Storm’s defensive line for large periods of the opening half. Steadfast on their own try line, Storm held out, seeing off numerous repeat sets.
Feletu Mateo made the most of the visitors’ weight of possession, breaking through under the posts to open up a 10-point advantage in the 28th minute.
Needing to hit back with points before the main break, Melbourne finished the half strongly, claiming some strong field position for the first time of the evening.
With the roar of the crowd deafening throughout the first half of play, Storm sent the home crowd into raptures after breaking through thanks to second-rower Kevin Proctor, played in by halfback Cronk.
Buoyed by their finish before the break, Storm started the second half strongly, further reducing the Warriors’ lead. Some quick movement on the left edge created the overlap for Tonumaipea to find touch.
A solid period of attacking play forced the Warriors to defend multiple repeat sets, just as Melbourne were required to do earlier in the night. The Warriors, inspired by dynamic halfback Shaun Johnson catapulted up the park, scoring against the run of play through the 23-year old.
Facing a six point deficit with 15 minutes remaining, Melbourne were unable to fashion another try scoring opportunity until the dying stages of the contest. The fast finishing Warriors threatened in attack, before displaying a solid defensive showing to close out the contest.
Melbourne Storm 10
Tries: Kevin Proctor 37m, Young Tonumaipea 44m
Goals: Cameron Smith 1
Tries: David Fusitua 10m, Feleti Mateo 28m, Shaun Johnson 64m
Goals: Shaun Johnson 2