Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

League: New Zealand Warriors beaten by Melbourne Storm in wet conditions

On a night of unfamiliar March weather, an all too familiar outcome.

At a rain soaked Mt Smart, the Storm were too smart, too clinical and ultimately too skillful, beating the Warriors 26-10 tonight.

Though the home side fought hard - and were severely handicapped by the loss of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (concussion) in the 28th minute - the margin probably flattered the Warriors, with the Storm going close on several other occasions.

The difference was simple; the Storm are the finished product - even without some big names - while the Warriors are a work in progress. Like last week they had spells of momentum, but couldn't maintain it and were often undone by poor decisions or errors.

The Warriors led briefly in the first half, but never regained the initiative after Melbourne's second try in the 25th minute.

And the Storm are always formidable opponents; not just for the vast experience of Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, but also for their unique ability to play to the edges of the law around the ruck. The officials tonight were again guilty of some curious decisions, generally giving Melbourne much greater latitude.

The conditions, especially in the first half, were awful. Maybe not quite at the levels of the infamous All Blacks Scotland test at Eden Park in 1977, but not far away. Torrential rain had buffeted Auckland since early this afternoon, with puddles forming in both in goals.

The Storm are experts at wet weather football and predictably, made the better start, with Kenny Bromwich showed greater hunger to be first to a precise Cooper Cronk chip.

But then the Auckland side proceeded to play like only they can, exhibiting why they have retained such a loyal fan base through years of frustration. Their first try, was a marvel, given the conditions.

As they splashed in ankle deep water, the Warriors went from one side of the field to the other, with some remarkable ball control, before Tui Lolohea crossed in the corner. Soon afterwards Solomone Kata released Shaun Johnson, and the halfback stepped his way past three defenders from close range, an appropriate way to break Stacey Jones' point scoring record for the club.

But their lead didn't last long. A Cheyse Blair try - after a Lolohea slip - took the Storm back into the lead and only some impressive defence prevented further Melbourne points in the first half.

Winger Suliasi Vunivalu crossed just after halftime, leaving the Warriors with a relative mountain to climb, given the conditions, and they never looked likely.

Warriors 10 (T Lolohea, S Johnson tries; S Johnson goal)
Storm 26 (K Bromwich, C Blair, S Vunivalu, Cronk tries; C Smith 5 goals)
Halftime: 12-10

- NZ Herald

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