NRL: Warriors falter in Melbourne

Justin O'Neill of the Storm scores a try during the round eight NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the New Zealand Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.
Justin O'Neill of the Storm scores a try during the round eight NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and the New Zealand Warriors. Photo / Getty Images.

Melbourne 32
Warriors 14

Melbourne has been a happy hunting ground for the Warriors in recent times but it wasn't for Krisnan Inu tonight as he made errors that cost his side the chance of upsetting the competition leaders.

The Storm have been unbeatable this season and, although the Warriors couldn't change that, they came a lot closer than the scoreline suggested.

They did it on the back of a whole-hearted effort that sometimes rattled the home side. They played with power and purpose on both attack and defence as they took Melbourne on at their own game and the should get a lot of confidence out of the performance.

The fact they couldn't win had as much to do with the fact the Storm are a brilliant side - and they won their eight match of the season - as a couple of inexplicable errors from Inu.

The centre, who was thrust into the fullback duties in the sixth minute when Kevin Locke was forced off with a painful sternum injury, firstly dropped the ball when carrying it in one hand under little pressure and then tried an ill-advised offload to winger Bill Tupou late in the match close to his own line.

On both occasions, Melbourne scored in the following set. The Storm don't need charity and it would have been galling for a number of Inu's teammates who had done all the hard work to get the Warriors into the contest.

They were the sorts of mistakes that have seen Inu's career slide from the heights of his opening season. He is blessed with so much talent but is prone to silly errors that puts his team under pressure and, in a game where errors are magnified, was a liability.

The second error came in the 72nd minute with Melbourne leading 20-14 and the game in the balance. The Storm then piled on two late tries to give the score a flattering look.
The Warriors didn't deserve to lose by so much and they can take some comfort from the fact they pushed the home side so close.

They knew the only way they would stay in the contest was if they held onto the football. They did that very well, completing 82 per cent of the sets, and it was Melbourne who looked a little straggly in the early exchanges.

The home side made uncharacteristic errors, sometimes on their first set, which put them under pressure and the Warriors capitalised with two excellent tries to Bill Tupou and another to Lewis Brown.

But this Melbourne side aren't easily rattled and the machine quickly rumbled into gear. Will Chambers grabbed a hat-trick and his centres partner Dane Nielsen scored a double but it was the constant pressure caused by Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith that caused problems for the Warriors.

The Warriors' forwards were excellent all night as the likes of Ben Matulino, Russell Packer and Feleti Mateo got through their work, Manu Vatuvei ran powerfully for 117m and Tupou finished superbly. But it was difficult, sadly, to ignore Inu's contribution.

Melbourne 32 (Will Chambers 3, Dane Nielsen 2, Justin O'Neill tries; Cameron Smith 4 gls) Warriors 14 (Bill Tupou 2, Lewis Brown tries; James Maloney gl). HT: 6-10.

- APNZ

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