The New Zealand Warriors have scored victory in one of the most entertaining matches of 2013, with a 30-22 win over the Melbourne Storm in front of just over 20,000 fans at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.
The start of the match could not have been any better for the Warriors, after just two minutes the Warriors were able to cross through Ngani Laumape after the Storm had made an error in their very first set.
Soon after the Warriors were able to extend their lead through Ngani Laumape once again after some excellent lead up play on the set prior from Kevin Locke and Thomas Leulai that helped the Warriors go 100m to score in the space of three tackles.
From there it was some magic from Cooper Cronk that helped Melbourne back into the game. That magic was a perfect 40/20 kick that gave the Storm some brilliant attacking position. It took just the one play from the scrum for the Storm to show their class to bring the score back to 10-4 with Cameron Smith unable to convert.
Soon after the Storm were able to put the pressure back on after Cameron Smith found touch with a 40/20, from there the Storm tried a mirror image play only for it to fail at the last point with a forward pass halting the play.
Before the halftime break the Warriors were able to cross through Thomas Leulai who showed some good strength to beat six players, followed up by a Shaun Johnson Penalty goal to lead 18-4 at half time.
The second half was an ever twisting and turning affair, with both sides looking like they were going to overrun the opposition.
Early in the second half it was the Storm with all the momentum with two tries in the space of 11 minutes, firstly through Billy Slater then through Maurice Blair to bring the margin back to two points.
Not long after the Storm had the chance to level the scores up, but Cameron Smith found the left hand upright to deny them the equalising points.
The Warriors were able to extend their lead back out to eight points after Konrad Hurrell scored off some desperate play after the set play didn’t go to play.
As expected with the Warriors no lead is considered safe and it did look in peril momentarily with Cooper Cronk scoring in the 75th minute to bring the margin back to two points.
However it was the Warriors with last laugh with Kevin Locke scoring off a Shaun Johnson bomb to secure the win for the Warriors.
The travelling task doesn’t get any easier for the Storm who have to take on the Canberra Raiders who are undefeated at home, meanwhile the Warriors are at home next Saturday afternoon against the Cronulla Sharks.
New Zealand Warriors 30 Melbourne Storm 22
Venue: Mt Smart Stadium
Halftime Score: New Zealand Warriors 18-4
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Kevin Locke
2 points - Shaun Johnson
1 point - Cameron Smith
NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS (30)
Tries: Ngani Laumape (2), Thomas Leuluai, Konrad Hurrell, Kevin Locke
Conversions: Ngani Laumape (1/1), Shaun Johnson (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Shaun Johnson (1/1)
MELBOURNE STORM (22)
Tries: Cooper Cronk, Justin O'Neill, Billy Slater, Maurice Blair
Conversions: Cameron Smith (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Cameron Smith (0/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
TEAM NEWS: Jacob Lillyman comes into the starting side for the Warriors which sees Ben Matulino shift to the bench.
Meanwhile for the Storm, just the one change which sees Jason Ryles return from injury on the bench. He replaces Jordan McLean.
Warriors: 1. Kevin Locke 2. Ngani Laumape 3. Dane Nielsen 4. Konrad Hurrell 5. Manu Vatuvei 6. Thomas Leuluai 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Sam Rapira 9. Nathan Friend 15. Jacob Lillyman 11. Feleti Mateo 12. Simon Mannering (c) 13. Elijah Taylor
Interchange: 10. Ben Matulino 14. Suaia Matagi 16. Todd Lowrie 17. Dominique Peyroux
Storm: 1. Billy Slater 2. Sisa Waqa 3. Will Chambers 4. Maurice Blair 5. Justin O'Neill 6. Brett Finch 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Cam Smith (c) 10. Bryan Norrie 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Ryan Hoffman 13. Ryan Hinchcliffe
Interchange: 15. Tohu Harris 16. Siosaia Vave 17. Slade Griffin 20. Jason Ryles
Will Chambers makes an unforced error.
First error of the match from the Storm, they try to go wide but put down by Will Chambers
Opening points of the match go to the Warriors with some good play to take advantage of the overlap
New Zealand Warriors 4-0
Scored by Ngani Laumape. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
TRY Time again from the Warriors - Set up on the opening play from Kevin Locke running 60m off the Cameron Smith bomb, then Thomas Leulai sets it up on the next two plays
New Zealand Warriors 10-0
Cooper Cronk kicks a 40/20.
Cooper Cronk hits the ball perfectly and takes 2 bounces over the sideline
Scored by Justin O'Neill. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful.
Justin O'Neill scores the Storms' first points of the day, A typically perfect set play from a scrum lets the Storm take advantage of the wide overlap to score
New Zealand Warriors 10-4
Cameron Smith kicks a 40/20.
Melbourne showing their supreme class there again, Cameron Smith from dummy half nails yet another perfect 40/20
Sisa Waqa makes an unforced error.
A try goes begging as Sisa Waqa tries to catch a Cooper Cronk kick one handed (not sure why) but the Warriors get the pressure relieved
Scored by Thomas Leuluai. Conversion attempt by Ngani Laumape successful.
Thomas Leulai shows some good strength to beat 6 players, to extend the Warriors lead
New Zealand Warriors 16-4
Penalty goal attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
Shaun Johnson has no problems with the penalty attempt from in front to push the lead out to 14
New Zealand Warriors 18-4
Scored by Billy Slater. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
The Big 3 set up the play for the opening points of the second half to Billy Slater
New Zealand Warriors 18-10
Scored by Maurice Blair. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
The Storm show why they are one of the powerhouse of the League, Maurice Blair forces his way to score
New Zealand Warriors 18-16
Penalty goal attempt by Cameron Smith unsuccessful.
Cameron Smith has a shocking attempt at penalty goal, hitting the left hand upright & the Warriors come away with the ball
New Zealand Warriors 18-16
Scored by Konrad Hurrell. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
The Hurrellcane pushes the Warriors lead out again - the play doesn't go to plan but the Warriors adapt the play and manage to find space and score
New Zealand Warriors 24-16
Billy Slater makes an unforced error.
Mt Smart Stadium erupts as Billy Slater has dropped a Shaun Johnson bomb under very little pressure
Scored by Cooper Cronk. Conversion attempt by Cameron Smith successful.
Cooper Cronk backs up a Sisa Waqa break down the sideline to score, the Storm punish the Warriors for their terrible mistake on last tackle
New Zealand Warriors 24-22
Cooper Cronk makes an unforced error.
Cooper Cronk makes an uncharacteristic error, 30m out from their own line, Warriors with possession
Scored by Kevin Locke. Conversion attempt by Shaun Johnson successful.
KEVIN LOCKE flies through the air to score off a Shaun Johnson bomb, surely this secures victory for the Warriors
New Zealand Warriors 30-22