The Melbourne Storm held off a fast finishing South Sydney to ensure supercoach Craig Bellamy celebrated his 500th game in style with a 15-14 golden point win at AAMI Park on Thursday night.
Leading 14-0 with 12 minutes to play the Storm conceded three quick tries to see their lead cut to two before a booming two-point field goal from 45 metres out by Latrell Mitchell sent the game to golden point.
Ryan Papenhuyzen then stepped up in the 84th minute to nail the field goal which handed the home side the win.
The Storm got the ball rolling in the 11th minute when Jahrome Hughes shrugged off Damian Cook's tackle and unloaded to Harry Grant who kicked across field for Xavier Coates to leap high and score in the corner.
A blunder by rookie Souths halfback Lachlan Ilias kicking out on the full in the 22nd minute handed the Storm field position to post a second try through Ryan Papenhuyzen and it was 8-0 to the home side.
Grant big break for Munster try
Harry Grant then ripped a hole through the heart of the Rabbitohs defence and raced 60 metres before drawing Latrell Mitchell and putting Cameron Munster over for a third try.
Trailing by 14 at the break the Rabbitohs began the second half as they had ended the first, with a poor pass by Cameron Murray error snuffing out their first attacking opportunity.
In the 49th minute they created a chance on the left edge but a tap-on by Jaxson Paulo to Alex Johnston was spilt by the winger.
The Storm then came within a whisker of a fourth try when Kenny Bromwich chipped ahead and a scramble for the ball ended with Dean Ieremia scoring but the bunker found an offside play in the lead-up.
Latrell nails it from outside 40
Melbourne were again denied in the 59th minute when Grant grubbered for Justin Olam but the PNG centre was ruled to have knocked the ball while attempting to ground it.
The Rabbitohs' attack finally clicked with 11 minutes to play when a brilliant Cody Walker pass found Taane Milne who sent the ball to Johnston for the 138th try of his career.
With five minutes to play the Storm went down to 12 men when Olam was sin binned after repeated offside infringements and Paulo crossed in the right corner to make it 14-8.
A quick shift to Souths' right found Mitchell who delivered a gem of a pass for Campbell Graham to score but a third missed conversion by Mitchell left Souths two points behind.
Incredibly Mitchell then stepped up to land a two-point field goal from long range to send the game to golden point before Papenhuyzen had the last word.
Match: Storm v Rabbitohs
Round 2 -
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
- Craig Bellamy becomes the fourth man in premiership history to coach 500 games behind Wayne Bennett (890), Tim Sheens (669) and Brian Smith (601).
- South Sydney have lost all 18 games played in Melbourne, including all 11 at AAMI Park.
- The crowd at AAMI Park paid tribute to cricket icon and one of Melbourne's favourite sons, Shane Warne, in the 23rd minute with a sustained round of applause. Warne wore No.23 in one-day internationals for Australia.
- The Rabbitohs gave themselves virtually no hope of matching the Storm in the opening 40 minutes, coming up with 10 errors and completing at 50 percent.
- Storm interchange forward Tepai Moeroa was sent to the sin bin in the 51st minute when he dragged Cameron Murray back as he tried to support a break by Davvy Moale.
- Storm halves Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munster had 14 tackle breaks between them.
- Rabbitohs centre Campbell Graham never stopped trying in a beaten side, making 176 metres from 19 runs and breaking nine tackles.
Plays of the Game
Harry Grant had his fingerprints all over the opening 40 minutes as the Storm raced to a 14-0 lead. His pinpoint kick set up the game's opening try for Xavier Coates and his explosive burst out of dummy half embarrassed the Bunnies and gave Cameron Munster a saloon passage to the line for Melbourne's third try. Grant finished the night with 145 running metres, two try assists and 41 tackles for good measure.
Kick on the first? No worries
What They Said
"Happy to get the win in Belza's 500th. He is definitely someone to admire as a coach but as a person too. He's a pretty special coach and a special person. He likes to get to know our families, likes to get to know everyone around the place. It doesn't matter if you're the janitor or the president he treats everyone the same and that's a really good trait to have and it's infectious throughout the group." - Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen paying tribute to Craig Bellamy on Channel Nine
"We've got to keep believing in ourselves and it will come, I have no doubt. I'm pretty proud of the boys because at 14-0 down with a 50 per cent completion rate in the first half that game could have gone anywhere. We grew in confidence as the game went on but we were pretty clunky in terms of our last pass especially, I thought we bombed four chances but we just have to keep playing through that." - Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou
"I think we only completed one set in the last 20 minutes of the second half and for 20 minutes we had a man short so we were under pressure all over the place. I'm not quite sure how we got there in the end with 12 men ... we probably got lucky in the end but sometimes you deserve your luck." - Storm coach Craig Bellamy
NRL Press Conference: Storm v Rabbitohs - Round 2, 2022
The Storm are at home again in round three against the Eels. These two sides have had some monumental clashes in recent times, including round 24 last year when the blue and golds ended Melbourne's record 19-game winning streak.
The Rabbitohs meet the Roosters in a highly anticipated showdown at Accor Stadium. The Book of Feuds will be dusted off during the week and plenty of attention will focus on the most recent chapter written in round 24 last year when Latrell Mitchell's high shot left Joey Manu with a fractured cheekbone.