They had to play 90 minutes of rugby league but Melbourne and Manly still couldn’t be separated in a golden point thriller at AAMI Park in front of 12,961 fans tonight.
In the wash-up, both teams scored one try each, kicked two penalty goals and had several unsuccessful field-goal attempts each in extra-time.
An 80th minute penalty goal from Cameron Smith levelled the scores after Manly’s Herculean effort in defence appeared to have stolen a rare two competition points from the southern capital.
At one stage in the second half, the Sea Eagles were camped on their own goal-line and refused to buckle under the weight of possession with the Storm throwing everything in attack, including having 30 successive tackles in the 20-metre zone.
Jamie Lyon opened the scoring in just the third minute when the Sea Eagles were awarded a dubious penalty for a high tackle which replays suggested was little more than a lazy arm grab around the top of the shoulder.
Lyon was again in the action several minutes later as the Eagles continued their perfect start to the match, completing all of their first six possessions. Daly Cherry-Evans kicked across to a contest between winger David Williams and opponent Mahe Fonua. Unfortunately for the Storm side, Fonua couldn’t hang onto the ball and Lyon scooped up the loose ball before crossing in the corner. His sideline conversion extended the visitors’ lead to 8-0 and that would remain the scoreline until halftime.
In a rare foray into Manly territory in the 17th minute Storm prop Bryan Norrie was brilliantly held up over the line in a one-on-one play by Eagles stand-in fullback Peta Hiku. Replays suggested the Melbourne forward lost the ball attempting to score the try but the video referee deemed Hiku stole the ball and awarded a goal-line dropout.
A 29th minute play from Ryan Hoffman summed up the Storm’s first half when he charged into the defensive line and threw a miracle offload out the back. With captain Cameron Smith planning the next play, Manly forward George Rose dived on the loose ball.
Melbourne’s scoreless first half backed up their first half effort in Penrith last week and was the first time since 2001 where they had registered back-to-back pointless opening 40 minute performances.
After sustained pressure on the Eagles goal-line the Storm finally found a way across, but they had to rely on five-eighth Gareth Widdop’s boot before Maurice Blair out-leaped the Manly defence in the 57th minute. Cameron Smith added a successful conversion after converting a penalty goal earlier in the half.
Jamie Lyon put the visitors ahead in the 70th minute and it appeared the boys from Brookvale were going to steal the competition points until Brent Kite was ruled offside on the stroke of full-time, allowing Smith to again draw the Storm level at 10-all.
As is the case with golden point matches, the fixture turned into a field-goal shootout before a piece of Cameron Smith brilliance on the stroke of halftime in extra time looked to give Melbourne one final chance to steal victory.
With the Storm rushing to pack the scrum, referee Shayne Hayne appeared to have blown time-off just before the siren sounded. Unfortunately for the home side Hayne made the decision to call half-time in extra time.
Gareth Widdop had a final chance to steal victory for the Storm in the 90th minute with a booming 55-metre attempted field-goal which was on target, but landed just short, leaving both teams to take a point each out of the game.
Next week the Storm travel to Allianz Stadium to tackle the Roosters while the Eagles will return to Brookvale on Saturday night to clash with the Raiders.