The Melbourne Storm were off to a flying start in front of a big home crowd at AAMI Park. Within the first five minutes of the match, Cooper Cronk set up a brilliant try for Will Chambers. Cronk opted to run the ball on last tackle and the gamble paid off as Chambers barged his way over on the back of a Cooper's offload.
This must've rattled the mindset of the South Sydney team, as they conceded another try within three minutes. The Melbourne forwards made easy metres on the kick return and a line break from Billy Slater gave Melbourne a 78m gain. A kick handed possession over to South Sydney, but the Melbourne defense were up to the challenge, forcing Nathan Merritt back into his in goal. Merritt seemingly lost the ball cleanly in the tackle, and it was dived on by Jesse Bromwich, who was awarded the four points.
After ten minutes of the match, Melbourne were ahead by 12 points. Some great play continued for the next ten minutes, though no points were scored. Melbourne's defense restricted South Sydney and their attack looked polished. Isaac Luke made a massive break down field for the Rabbitohs but to no avail. After 18 minutes, Melbourne made the first error of the match, which incidentally was the first of 24 errors for the entire match.
Errors riddled the rest of the second half, and a penalty for holding down put Melbourne ahead by 14 points ahead. South Sydney put Melbourne under pressure with mere minutes left on the clock, and a kick across field by Adam Reynolds put Ben Te'o's name on the scoreboard for a try. Reynolds converted the try, as Te'o had scored right under the black dot, and at the half time break Melbourne lead 14-6.
South Sydney definitely took some momentum from their late try, as they came out firing in the second half. Kevin Proctor made two knock ons in quick succession, and threw away the ball in anger on the second occasion. South Sydney were awarded a penalty 30m out, centrefield. Reynolds made no mistake reducing the deficit to just 6 points, but this was the last points South Sydney would score in the match at 14-8.
Cooper Cronk set up a try for Sisa Waqa after a brilliant bullet pass to cut out two of his team mates. The try was rather dubious, as replays showed Waqa putting the ball down on Matt King's boot. However, momentum had carried Waqa over the line and he was able to put the ball down on the grass. The next set from Melbourne was great, but a wayward kick from Cronk put South Sydney in a great position to dominate the next ten minutes of play. At one point the Rabbitohs even managed to kart the ball 50 metres down field before being tackled.
At the 64th minute, Dylan Farrell was left motionless after collecting the knee of Andrew Everingham. Farrell was placed in a neck brace and eventually stretchered off the field when play was stopped minutes later. Five minutes later, a tackle bust and a brilliant ball from Billy Slater sent Justin O'Neill through a gap. Sisa Waqa was looming on O'Niell's inside, though he had enough strength to barge his way over to seal the match for Melbourne.
A penalty in the last minute of the game saw that Melbourne would win by a comfortable 26 points to 8.
Melbourne Storm 26 South Sydney Rabbitohs 8
Venue: Melbourne Rectangular Stadium
Halftime Score: Melbourne Storm 14-6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Cooper Cronk
2 points - Cameron Smith
1 point - Billy Slater
MELBOURNE STORM (26)
Tries: Will Chambers, Jesse Bromwich, Sisa Waqa, Justin O'Neill
Conversions: Cameron Smith (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (2/2)
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS (8)
Tries: Ben Te'o
Conversions: Adam Reynolds (1/1)
Penalty Goals: Adam Reynolds (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Team changes for the Storm are in with one change which sees Maurice Blair ruled out, Justin O'Neill returns into the side in the centres.
For the Rabbitohs, Dylan Walker has been ruled out with Andrew Everingham returning the side. George Burgess shifts to the bench to give Roy Asotasi a start in the forwards. Jeff Lima has been ruled out which sees Ben Lowe move to the bench and Dave Tyrell start at lock
1. Billy Slater 2. Sisa Waqa 3. Will Chambers 23. Justin O’Neill 5. Mahe Fonua 6. Brett Finch 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cameron Smith (c) 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Interchange 14. Jason Ryles 15. Tohu Harris 16. Jordan McLean 17. Kenneath Bromwich
Rabbitohs: 1. Nathan Merritt 2. Dylan Farrell 3. Bryson Goodwin 4. Dylan Walker 5. Matt King 6. Luke Keary 7. Adam Reynolds 8. Sam Burgess 9. Issac Luke 16. Roy Asotasi 11. Chris McQueen 12. Ben Te'o 18. Dave Tyrell
Interchange: 14. Nathan Peats 10. George Burgess 17. Thomas Burgess 13. Ben Lowe
Scored by Will Chambers. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
Cooper Cronk runs the ball on the last tackle and is through a gap. He manages to offload the ball before being tackled and a few passes later Chamber barges over.
Melbourne Storm 6-0
Scored by Jesse Bromwich. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
Green lights for Melbourne. It seems as if Merritt has lost the ball in the tackle, and held was not called. Bromwich puts down the ball cleanly so there is no reason not to award it. Melbourne off to a great start.
Melbourne Storm 12-0
Mahe Fonua makes an unforced error.
Loses the ball on his 10m line.
Cameron Smith makes an unforced error.
Knock on called 30m out from Melbourne's goal line. South Sydney with the ball now.
Adam Reynolds makes an unforced error.
A double knock on is ordered after some flashy play from South Sydney. Reynolds with the first error though.
Ryan Hoffman makes an unforced error.
A great run from Hoffman, but loses it before getting up to play the ball. Scrum ordered.
Will Chambers makes an unforced error.
An offload from Jason Ryles sets up some flashy play down the right hand side of the field, but is knocked on.
Sam Burgess makes an unforced error.
South Sydney now turn the ball over. Scrum to pack down.
Penalty goal attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
Didn't look like missing from that position.
Melbourne Storm 14-0
Brett Finch makes an unforced error.
Finch couldn't handle the restart and the ball goes dead off his hands. Line drop out with South Sydney to receive.
Andrew Everingham makes an unforced error.
Everingham makes an error on the wing. Fonua picks up the ball and is off, but is tackled. A scrum to pack with Melbourne getting the feed.
Mahe Fonua makes an unforced error.
Fonua fails to play the ball now off the back of the scrum and South Sydney have a scrum centrefield, 10m out from the Storm try line.
Scored by Ben Te'o. Conversion attempt by Adam Reynolds successful.
Reynolds puts a kick in and Te'o scores the Rabbitohs' first try. Reynolds has no difficulty as Te'o had scored right under the black dot.
Melbourne Storm 14-6
George Burgess makes an unforced error.
Big George Burgess loses the ball into the Melbourne Storm line of defense. Knock on is ordered and a scrum is packed just inside Melbourne's 40m line.
Kevin Proctor makes an unforced error.
Trying to get up quickly to play the ball, Proctor loses the ball and a scrum now packs on South Sydney's 30m line.
Kevin Proctor makes an unforced error.
Proctor knocks the ball on midway through the first tackle. Proctor cannot believe what has happened and angrily throws the ball away. PENALTY. Souths awarded a penalty centrefield, 30m out for Proctor's outburst.
Penalty goal attempt by Adam Reynolds successful.
Reynolds makes no mistake with the shot at goal. South Sydney are now within a converted try.
Melbourne Storm 14-8
Scored by Sisa Waqa. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful.
Cooper Cronk throws a brilliant cut out pass to Sisa Waqa on the wing, who steps back in field and barges over. Referees happy with the play, though some South Sydney players are not.
Melbourne Storm 18-8
Scored by Justin O'Neill. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
A brilliant ball from Billy Slater puts Justin O'Neill through a gap. Obviously he recovered from his leg cramp. Waqa is looming on his inside, but O'Niell has enough strength to get over the line and score a try out wide. Cameron Smith makes no mistake with the conversion and Melbourne now lead by 16 points.
Melbourne Storm 24-8
Bryson Goodwin makes an unforced error.
Goodwin throws what is judged to be a forward pass, though the ball looks flat.