NRL: Warriors fail to cool off Storm

By Kris Shannon

Simon Mannering of the Warriors charges forward during the round 13 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Melbourne Storm at Mt Smart Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.
Simon Mannering of the Warriors charges forward during the round 13 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Melbourne Storm at Mt Smart Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.

Warriors 12
Melbourne 22

The fast-starting Warriors couldn't cool off the red-hot Storm, going down 22-12 to the competition leaders at Mt Smart Stadium today.

So often a menace for Melbourne throughout their history, the Warriors threatened to hand the Storm just their second loss of the NRL campaign but were held scoreless in the second spell after taking a lead to the break.

The Warriors were coming off their bye week and it looked like the rest had done them some good when they ran out to an early 12-0 lead, but the Storm scored 22 unanswered points to improve their record to 11 wins and a solitary loss.

It was a second straight loss for the Warriors after their disappointing reversal against the Tigers before the bye week, and it was also their first defeat since March at their Mt Smart fortress.

It could have been very different if the Warriors maintained their opening intensity, but it wasn't to be and their 2012 record fell to five wins and seven losses.

The Warriors began like a side refreshed from a fortnight off and they took an early lead in fortuitous circumstances, when James Maloney's misplaced pass on the final tackle bobbled into the grateful hands of Konrad Hurrell to cross the line untouched.

The Warriors' second also came with a touch of luck, after Melbourne were harshly penalised near their line. From the ensuing possession, Shaun Johnson fired a perfect cut-out pass from dummy half to eliminate three Storm defenders and leave Manu Vatuvei with a clear run down the left sideline.

Despite the strokes of fortune the home side were good value for their lead, but the Storm soon hit back through Gareth Widdop who showed some fine footwork to skip inside a pair of tacklers close to the line.

If the Storm felt they were owed some luck of their own, their wish was granted with late in the half. Replays were inconclusive as to whether Jaiman Lowe's dart from dummy half was successful, but Matt Cecchin awarded the try after the video red was undecided.

There was still time in the half for the curse of the No 1 jersey to again strike the Warriors, with Glen Fisiiahi forced off with an apparent knee strain, and the Warriors' woes were compounded when Sam Rapira also left proceedings with a bicep injury.

But the Warriors managed to hold out a strong-finishing Storm side to take the lead to the break, although it appeared a matter of when not if their advantage would disappear.
As it happened, some strong defence from the hosts to start the second spell meant it took the Storm 15 minutes to claim the lead.

Cooper Cronk drifted toward the right sideline before popping a pass for Will Chambers, and the man who scored a hat-trick the last time these sides met snuck through a hole and stepped inside the recently returned Fisiiahi to put Melbourne in front.

And Cam Smith clinched the game for the visitors in a stretched final 10 minutes, finishing Billy Slater's break to seal the points.

Warriors 12 (Hurrell, Vatuvei tries; Maloney 2 cons)
Melbourne 22 (Widdop, Lowe, Chambers, Smith tries; Smith 3 cons)
HT: 12-10


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