Melbourne ended a four-match losing streak to keep their top four hopes alive after defeating an enthusiastic Warriors team 24-12 at Mt Smart Stadium.
The Storm led from the seventh minute when PNG centre Justin Olam scored the opening try of the match but they were never comfortable until the fulltime siren as the Warriors refused to give up before a capacity home crowd.
Warriors winger Ed Kosi scored a hat-trick of tries but it wasn't enough to lift the New Zealand-based side to their second win in as many matches since ending their three year exodus.
Melbourne forwards Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Josh King were placed on report by referee Peter Gough for unsavoury incidents in the opening exchanges, with King accused of gouging by Warriors lock Jazz Tevaga.
“I can’t see a gouging action, the hand is there on the face. It is on report," Gough said.
Storm fullback Nick Meaney failed to finish the match after suffering a shoulder injury midway through the second half and with Ryan Papenhuyzen out for the season coach Craig Bellamy will be sweating on the results of scans.
Warriors five-eighth Chanel Harris-Tavita failed to finish the match after injuring his knee in the first half, forcing a reshuffle with hooker Wayde Egan playing 52 minutes in the playmaking role.
The win lifts Melbourne back into the top four for now but Brisbane and Cronulla have the chance to leapfrog them in matches this weekend.
Match: Warriors v Storm
Round 20 -
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
- After four consecutive losses, the Storm wanted to assert their authority early and prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona found himself in hot water over a lifting tackle and forearm to the jaw of Wayde Egan in the opening five minutes.
- Egan was forced from the field for treatment but later returned and spent some time at five-eighth after Chanel Harris-Tavita hobbled off with a knee injury.
- Asofa-Solomona was placed on report and after being charged twice last week by the match review committee will face a nervous wait to learn whether he faces suspension.
Nelson Asofa-Solomona placed on report
- Warriors forward Josh Curran was penalised for a high shot on Melbourne halfback Jahrome Hughes in the sixth minute and it provided the Storm with their first attacking opportunity.
- The result was a try to Kumuls centre Justin Olam, who brushed off the attempted tackle of Shaun Johnson to score after Hughes and Munster combined in the lead up.
Olam opens the scoring
- Referee Peter Gough was forced to lay down the law to Melbourne captain Jesse Bromwich after six penalties by the visitors in the opening 20 minutes, including a gouging allegation against interchange forward Josh King.
- “That’s your fourth incident of foul play. You know what happens next if it continues," Gough said. "That area needs to fix up real quick."
- The poor discipline proved costly as Warriors five-eighth Chanel Harris-Tavita put winger Ed Kosi over in the corner with a long harbour bridge pass.
Kosi tucks away a try
- With Harris-Tavita injuring his knee, the Storm targeted him and Harry Grant scored in the 27th minute after skipping across the defensive line from dummy half before combining with Hughes, who put second-rower Felise Kaufusi into a hole.
- Reece Walsh appeared to have stopped Kaufusi but the Maroons star managed an offload to Grant, who was backing up in support.
Grant gets a try
- Egan was cleared of a serious injury and moved to five-eighth in place of Harris-Tavita, with the move paying dividends when he put Kosi over for his second try five minutes before halftime with a long cut out pass.
- Trailing 12-10 at halftime, the Warriors conceded a try on the last tackle of the opening set of six in the second half when Hughes strolled through the defence from a deep pass by Grant at dummy half.
Hughes Storms in
- A 54th minute Nick Meaney try appeared to have put the result to bed after the Storm spread the ball wide to rookie winger Grant Anderson, who raced down the sideline before kicking in-field for the goalkicking fullback.
- Meaney missed the conversion but Shaun Johnson's failure to take a goal line drop out before the shot clock siren enabled him to extend the Storm's lead to 14 points with the easiest of penalty goals.
- Meaney's involvement in the game ended soon after following a mid-air collision with Warriors winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak as they contested a Johnson kick.
- The Melbourne fullback landed awkwardly on his shoulder and trainers used his jersey as a sling as he left the field.
- A late try by Kosi, who completed his hat-trick when Johnson received he ball from a scrum win and threw a long pass to the rookie winger, kept the Warriors in the game but they were unable to score any further points.
Too easy for Kosi
Play of the game
The Storm and Warriors were going try for try until a spectacular finish by Melbourne fullback Nick Meaney gave the visitors the ascendency midway through the first half.
Meaney won the race for the ball and grounded it perfectly in-goal but the credit for the try goes to rookie winger Grant Anderson, who raced down the sideline and put a well placed kick in-field for his chasing team-mates.
Magic from Meaney
What they said
"I just thought there was moments in the game, again in the second half we let them score early. The game is about moments and the moments where it mattered we didn't quite [get them right]." – Warriors coach Stacey Jones.
Warriors: Round 20
“There was a few peaks and a few troughs as well. I just thought the Warriors played really well, especially the first half, they had us down in our end the whole half basically… I wasn’t sure quite how we were in front at half time to be quite be honest. But I thought that was probably the best we have defended in a few weeks.” – Storm coach Craig Bellamy
Storm: Round 20
The Storm host the Titans next Friday night before away matches against the Panthers and Broncos, following by a home clash with Sydney Roosters and a trip to Parramatta.
Kiwis hooker Brandon Smith returns from suspension for the Gold Coast clash, while Kumuls and Maroons winger Xavier Coates may be available the following week after suffering an ankle injury in Origin I.
The Warriors travel to the Sunshine Coast to play South Sydney next Saturday before returning to Auckland to host Canterbury and away trips to North Queensland and Penrith followed by a final home match against the Titans.