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Photo by Colin Whelan copyright © :         Bryan Norrie sizes up Charlie Runciman                      NRL Rugby League, Round 16 St George Illawarra Dragons v Melbourne Storm at Wollongong, Monday June 30th 2014.

Melbourne Storm has suffered a 24-12 defeat to the St. George Illawarra Dragons in Wollongong on Monday night.

A three try second half from the Dragons sealed Melbourne’s fate with the deficit proving too difficult to overturn for Craig Bellamy’s side.

A strong start from St. George Illawara saw the home side open up an early advantage, making the most of their first repeat set of the evening.

Be there at AAMI Park in Round 18 when Storm take on the Bulldogs.

Playmaker Benji Marshall linked up with Josh Dugan, allowing the centre to cross for the first points on Monday night, giving his side a 4-0 lead.

Continuing to apply pressure on the Melbourne defence, St. George Illawarra found some more joy in attack when a fortuitous bounce allowed Gareth Widdop to regather his own kick and score his first try in the red and white.

Needing a response, Sisa Waqa went close to scoring for Melbourne as Craig Bellamy’s side looked to cut into the Dragons’ lead and a way back into the contest.

The visitors’ patience in attack was rewarded in the 27th minute when Will Chambers and Sisa Waqa, who had looked threatening throughout the half, broke to set up a chance for fullback Billy Slater.

An even start to the second stanza saw both sides trade completed sets before St. George Illawarra made the most of their opportunities when in possession.

Three unanswered tries within 17 minutes of play left Melbourne with a mountain to climb in the dying stages of the contest.

Kurt Mann’s fifth try of the 2014 season came with five minutes of play remaining, however it proved to be merely a consolation for Storm.

Melbourne Storm 12

Tries: Billy Slater 27m, Kurt Mann 75m

Goals: Cameron Smith 2

St. George Illawarra Dragons 24

Tries: Josh Dugan 6m, Gareth Widdop 15m, Mitch Rein 53m, Jason Nightingale 64m, Charly Runciman 70m

Goals: Gareth Widdop 2

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.