Melbourne Storm’s Jersey Flegg side has gone down 24-18 to the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs at Seabrook Reserve on Sunday afternoon.
With Storm academy members Angus Hinchey, Mitchell Jennings, Gabriel Satrick and Stanley Huen all out of action due to QLD Under 19 Maroons duties, Sunday’s clash saw a number of fresh faces get their chance in the Storm jersey.
The reshuffle resulted in a slow start from the home side, with the Bulldogs quick to pounce in the opening exchanges, running in three tries inside the opening 20 minutes of play.
Lipoi Hopoi scored in the 7th minute after crashing through the middle of the Storm defence, with Harry Hayes and Joseph O’Neill both extending the visitor's lead not long after.
Errors saw Storm robbed of good field position for a majority of the first half, with the Bulldogs pack muscling up through the middle third of the field.
The boys in purple were finally gifted good field position after a Bulldogs error awarded them a full set attacking the visitors line, with fullback Matthew Hill almost slicing through the right-hand side.
While Hill was chopped down just shy of the line, Storm quickly shifted it right again withKeagan Russell-Smith putting Oscar Amosa through a hole to register the Club’s first points of the match.
Trailing 16-4 at the break, the Bulldogs wasted little time after a Storm error sending halfback Sione Moala over the line in the 37th minute.
With scoreboard pressure beginning to mount, the the home side kicked into gear, with forward Jerry Musu launching himself off the back fence with several damaging runs through the middle of the field.
As his forwards layed the foundation, captain Keagan Russell-Smith began to take control of the contest, forcing a repeat set with a well-weighted kick in behind the line before cashing in on the ensuing set.
Much like the role he played in Storm’s first try, Russell-Smith drifted right before putting the ball on a platter for Poasi Manu who sliced through to breathe life into the local crowd at Seabrook Reserve.
Storm continued on, marching downfield, quickly finding themselves attacking the Bulldogs line once again.
Scooping up the ball from dummy half, Russell-Smith was once again the conductor running the show for Storm, threading through a deft grubber for Deontae Perese to bridge the gap to just six points.
With momentum well and truly in Storm’s favour, the stage looked set for a grandstand finish only for an untimely error coming out of their own half-gifting field position to the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs then spread it left and Harry Hayes scored in the corner in the 66th minute to ice the game for the visitors.
While Storm were unable to get the ball back from the kick-off, Oscar Amosa did come up with an intercept on halfway to race away and score in what was the final play of the game.
Storm will now look to return to the winner's circle next Saturday when they face the Manly Sea Eagles at Four Pines Park.