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An inspired injury return from Will Warbrick helped lift the Storm to a 30-24 win over the Dolphins in a high-scoring affair on Friday night, which marked a third-straight win for the competition leaders. 

In a fitting end to a contest which always sat in the balance, it took a brilliant late try-saving tackle from Ryan Papenhuyzen and Sua Faalogo to deny a Trai Fuller effort which likely would have sent the game to golden point.  

Earlier the first half delivered 40 minutes of top-flight entertainment, with six tries scored in a perfect rotating pattern which meant no side led by more than six at any point. 

For their part the Dolphins fought on bravely, playing with 16 men for 73 minutes. 

After a month out with a hip flexor injury, Warbrick was a key difference and devastated a makeshift Dolphins left edge, which was plunged into chaos when Jack Bostock suffered a game-ending head injury inside the opening three minutes while attempting to tackle Warbrick on a break.

Tyran Wishart Try

The game also marked Papenhuyzen's return from injury, with the Storm No.1 scoring his side's opening try, while Dolphins forward Tevita Pangai jnr made his NRL comeback with a 35-minute stint off the interchange.  

The Dolphins shook off the earlier blow of losing Bostock to score through Kenny Bromwich and Euan Aitken, with 20-year-old playmaker Isaiya Katoa the common thread in both efforts, first sending Bromwich over with a deft short pass before his towering bomb eventually found its way out to Aitken. 

Euan Aitken Try

In between that the Storm struck a long-range blow down the left and finished through Papenhuyzen, before Warbrick broke free and put a monster fend on Herbie Farnworth to send Tyran Wishart over. 

Fuller's try off a scrum looked to have secured a half-time lead for the hosts, but Jahrome Hughes started and finished an adventurous move that evened things up again, with Jamayne Isaako missing a penalty on the siren that would have put the Dolphins back in front.

Jahrome Hughes Try

A leaping Warbrick claimed a Hughes kick for Melbourne's fourth just three minutes into the second stanza, before Josh King streamed through a gaping hole, with a Nick Meaney penalty in between making the lead 12. 

Isaako then dragged the Dolphins back into the contest with a 95-metre runaway in which he dodged a desperate late tackle from Papenhuyzen. 

The Dolphins had plenty of chances to find more points in the final quarter – none more glaring than Connelly Lemuelu's clean drop over the line with eight to play – but managed only a penalty goal through Isaako with minutes left, which set up a grandstand finish in which they ultimately couldn't find the try they needed. 

Match Snapshot

  • The victory was the 12th in a row for Craig Bellamy against his former mentor Wayne Bennett and ensures the Storm will finish Round 16 atop the NRL Telstra Premiership ladder. 
  • The Dolphins have now gone seven games in a row scoring at least 20 points. 
  • The Storm have won 10 of the 11 games that Jahrome Hughes has played in 2024.
  • In his first NRL game since Round 26 last year Tevita Pangai jnr was placed on report for a hit on Christian Welch off the ball, while Storm forward Trent Loiero was cited for a dangerous tackle in the final minute of the first half. 
  • Dolphins winger Jack Bostock suffered a game-ending head knock three minutes into the game. 
  • Kenny Bromwich underwent a HIA inside the final 15 minutes. 

Play of the Game

After the play broke down heading left, the Storm started again and Jahrome Hughes planted a kick perfectly on the spot for Will Warbrick to go up and get it. While up against usual centre Herbie Farnworth in the contest, Warbrick still had plenty to do and regathered well for what ended up being a crucial try. 

Will Warbrick Try

What They Said

"It's one of the things I really enjoy about being with these guys, they just don't know when to give up, they don't give up, they just stay at it. At the end of the night we didn't get beaten, we just ran out of time. Another five minutes we probably win it. Their effort is outstanding." – Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett. 

Dolphins: Round 16

"We're happy with our result but there's just some things throughout the 80 minutes that we haven't been consistent with, and while we got consistent with a couple of things today there were a couple of other things we were inconsistent at again. Most of it is around our defence. We are scoring plenty of points to win games, but we need to reduce the points getting scored against us." – Storm coach Craig Bellamy. 

Storm: Round 16

What's Next

The Storm return home to AAMI Park next Saturday to take on the Raiders and with Origin II being played in Melbourne three days earlier, it may make it more likely that Xavier Coates and Harry Grant are able to back up. The Dolphins have a nine-day turnaround ahead of playing the Dragons on the road, with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Felise Kaufusi their players facing the prospect of backing up. 

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.